The peloton hits the Pyrenees or, in this case, the Pyrenees hits the peloton. It’s a steep day in the mountains, with one Cat 2 climb (the Col du Portel) early on in the stage and two Cat 1 climbs nearer the finish. The Port de Lers has an average 7% gradient, but there are 9-10% sections before the summit. The final climb of the day is the Mur de Peguere – never before featured in the Tour – with an average gradient of 7.9%. That said, it’s a climb of two halves, with the first 6km in the region of 6% and the final 3km or so in excess of 12% with ramps of 18% and 16% to contend with. From the summit it’s downhill for nearly 40km into Foix so there is a chance for riders caught out on the climbs to limit the damage, but after two weeks of riding those gradients are going to hurt and every second counts.
The long run off the final summit means it’s a day for the big GC contenders to be watchful rather than fearful. And while it’s most certainly not a sprinters’ finish, Peter Sagan and others will look to get over the Col du Portel in the bunch – or chase back on to it after the summit – as it’s nearly 70km of largely flat road to the day’s sprint point before the serious climbing begins, so watch for Liquigas to be more than interested spectators, at least until the intermediate.
Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.
Link: Official website