The Pyrenees will feature in the middle week of this year’s Tour de France and will roll off a mostly sprint dominated opening week, followed by some punchier stages through the Vosges Mountains. Concluding the first Tour rest day, the race will set off from Albi through to the stunning city of Toulouse which will host the start of the following day’s Stage 12 and the Tour’s first true taste of Pyrenees mountain madness.
At this stage in the race, it’s inevitable that the General Classification and climbing specialists will be absolutely itching to unload and go head-to-head up the Pyrenean passes. No doubt, a real spectacle to see as the race will remain wide open. This is the week we’ll get a real incentive as to who will take ownership of the tour standings, unafraid to put the Pyrenees and their opponents in their place. Perhaps also some prime opportunities for the less targeted, dark horses to have a crack and take time where they can…Whatever happens, it’s assuredly going to be all-action in the Pyrenees!
The real Pyrenees test lies between Stage 12 to 14; three back-to-back crucial days for GC hopes. Stage 12’s testy 202km route will travel from Toulouse, onto the challenging ascent of the Col de Peyresourde. The 15.3km climb will have the race well and truly on, likely split to bits before the stage route hits the slopes of La Hourquette d’Ancizan, where another lengthy 10.3 km grovel lies ahead, before descending into Bagnères-de-Bigorre and what is expected to be a thrilling, fast finish to the line between the key overall contenders.
From there, the riders will head to Pau for Stage 13 where a relatively short, yet undulating 27km awaits. This race against the clock will prove vital; a real opportunity for specialists, such as Thomas, Dumoulin and Froome to make their mark and gain as many precious seconds as allows. For their lesser competitors, a day to bring out their best performance in the hope of minimising losses and remaining in close contention.
The following day, all hell could well break loose with the Tour-prominent Col du Tourmalet on the cards. As the most frequently climbed race in Tour history, its relentless nature will come as no surprise to the race. This year’s edition, however marks only the third occasion for the race to finish at its 2115m summit. Fatigue will no doubt be well and truly set in by now, as the peloton will first face the 13km Col du Soulour before eventually hitting the base of the daunting 18.6km long Tourmalet. Expect fireworks, as who wouldn’t want to win atop the legendary Tourmalet and make Tour de France history as the third rider to claim honours atop? We’ll safely assume a breakaway could well be on the hunt for victory, and regardless of its success or failure, the GC contenders will be in full battle mode in their own race for glory and precious seconds, prepared to leave it all on the line ahead of the Tour’s final rest day that follows.
Mummu Cycling will be settling in for all the Pyrenees action this July, running two 7 day tours; Pro and Ride. The Pro tour, hosted by 17 x TdF contender himself, Stuart O’Grady, will be all about travelling right inside the race, enjoying the best of Pyrenees-famous rides and climbs, but also taking time to get amongst the madness, viewing key live stages and kicking back in Tour de France hospitality zones while at it. The Ride tour will also be about catching some epic Pyrenean TdF moments, but more of a ‘ride’ focus with big km days and some serious climbing on the cards. Led by former pro, Nick Gates, he’ll certainly have you up for a challenge.