GreenEDGE Travel: Tantalising TourmaletFri 19 Apr 2019
The ever-prominent Col du Tourmalet will return once more to this year’s Tour de France, in Stage 14 and what will mark the first significant high-altitude test for contenders. Undoubtedly, a prime platform for overall challengers to unload and make their mark in a bid for precious seconds.
The Stage will counter what is expected to be a crucial 27km Individual Time Trial in Pau the day prior, likely leaving the Time Trial specialists with a slight advantage heading into Stage 14 and the looming Tourmalet. Competitors will almost certainly be left hungry and primed to bounce back with a vengeance and reclaim any losses made.
Setting off from Tarbes, the total stage route will cover 117km. Following the mid-way point, the first testing hump of the day, the 13km Col du Soulour awaits. Perhaps a prime opportunity to fire-up the legs, put the pressure on where needed and seek out any sign of early weakness or dominance in rivals. The descent will take the race through toArgelés-Gazost, before eventually reaching the town ofLuz-Saint-Sauveur. The Tourmalet by now, towering above, well in sight, eagerly awaiting the race.
The legendary mountain is the highest paved pass in the French Pyrenees, located in the Hautes region and reaching a formidable altitude of 2115m. Incredibly intimidating at 18.6km in length, over an average gradient of 7.5% with viscous peaks ramping up to 13.5% in the closing stages; undeniably, no easy feat for anyone.
It will be an expected drama-filled, attack marred fight for the race lead, followed by a true battle for time-cut as the remnants of the peloton grovel it out behind. Perhaps even a day for the breakaway to succeed and add yet another ‘race within the race’ to its daunting peak. Tantalisingly tough, tormenting even for some, that will assuredly see a true champion cross the summit; on top of the world, triumphant, yet depleted and another Tour de France-Tourmalet great.
The iconic ascent has featured a frequent 78 times since it’s welcoming to the Tour de France in 1910. 2019, however marks only the third time the climb’s summit will crown a stage winner.
The last occasion the mountain pass held a stage finish, was its centenary year in 2010, when Andy Schleckedged out Alberto Contador to the line. Contador, in yellow spent the majority of the climb glued to Schlecks wheel, the Maillot Jaune the only real target on his mind. The Luxembourgianwas unable to shake the ever-strong Spaniard in what deemed one of the final opportunities to fight for the lead. Regardless of ambitions, still a momentous stage victory for Schleckto be crowned only the second Tourmalet victor in the race’s history.
The sole inclusion prior to that travels back a number of years to 1974 when Frenchman Jean-Pierre Danguillaumesoled to the line to claim the Tourmalet’s first honours, ensuring France a highly-delighted nation.
2019 will undoubtedly deliver another exhilarating, race-shaping Tourmalet stage and will certainly be one for Tour archives, marking only the third finish at its summit, ever.
GreenEDGE Travel will be right in the thick of the action on race day, following a battle of their own, conquering the climb ahead of the race. Every effort worth it, as they will kick back atop and embrace the electric, roaring crowds that excitedly await the winner to storm through and take honours.
This will round-out a 6 day Tour de France experience in the Pyrenees, chasing Tour action and backing Mitchelton-SCOTT all the way.
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Photos courtesy of Kristof Ramon.