Five passes on the menu
"If you can say yesterday's stage could effectively be summed up, as far as the favourites are concerned, as a hill-climb decided on the final ascent, today's menu will have another flavour entirely? Firstly, it's a relatively short stage (165km). Next, it is extremely difficult, featuring no fewer than five passes. Our aim? To complicate the racing strategy and maintain the suspense? That's why there is a long and demanding 30km descent into the finish at Bagnères-de-Bigorre. We thought it might inspire the likes of Nibali or Evans to put together an interesting tactical plan in the hope of destabilising the likely dominance of the Sky Pro Cycling team."
The towns / A sporting view
Nestled at the foot of the Ariege Pyrenees, in the shadow of the Gallo-Roman ramparts of the ancient episcopal city of Saint-Lizier, the capital of Couserans stretches its picturesque streets on either side of two torrents of water that hurtle down from the highest mountains, the Salat and the Lez, and meet in the centre of the city. Its fairs and markets, which fill the streets several times a month with its local mountain population, are particularly lively and eclectic and always attract surprise and admiration from tourists. Saint-Girons, which is home to the main commercial sector in Couserans also has a number of small and medium businesses: artisanal beer producers, coffee roasting plants, paper mills, cheese producers, santonniers, glassmakers, construction companies ... The warmth and sense of hospitality of its people, its excellent climate and strategic location as well as being the capital of Couserans enable it to assert its tourist credentials. The proximity of the Pyrenees and its summits like the Mont Valier and Le Pic du Crabère attract mountain sport and nature lovers.
Sub-prefecture of Ariege (09)
Specialities: confits, garbure (soup), cheese (bethmale, moulis)
Economy: paper, tourism
Sport: St Girons RC (rugby union)
Celebrities: Roger Fauroux (former mayor and minister), Patrice Bonnet (architect)
Culture: Foire-Exposition de l'Ariege et du Couserans, Theatre Festival.
Labels: ville ambassadrice du Telethon 2008.
Mountain passes & hills
- Km 28,5 - Col de Portet-d’Aspet5,4 kilometre-long climb at 7%
- Km 44 - Col de Menté7 km kilometre-long climb at 8,1%
- Km 87 - Col de Peyresourde13,1 kilometre-long climb at 7,1%
- Km 107,5 - Col de Val Louron-Azet7,4 kilometre-long climb at 8,3%
- Km 135 - La Hourquette d’Ancizan9,9 kilometre-long climb at 7,5%
At the heart of the Adour valley, at the foot of the Pic du Midi and the Aspin and Tourmalet cols, Bagnères-de-Bigorre is the number one thermal resort in the High Pyrenees. The benefits of its waters were already recognised in Roman times and today it welcomes about 8,000 people for hydrotherapy treatment. Its ‘Grands Thermes' offer treatments notably for rheumatology and respiratory problems. But hydrotherapy is not Bagnères' only asset, with the support of the community of Haute-Bigorre communes, it also demonstrates industrial know-how and is home to many specialized small and medium sized business in aeronautics and electrical and mechanical engineering. The Grand Tourmalet also lies on part of its territory, the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees with more than one hundred kilometres of pistes. Finally, throughout the year, Bagnères-de-Bigorre holds many cultural and sporting events including the Piano Pic and À Voix Haute festivals , the Street Arts Weekend, the salon du Livre pyrénéen and international tennis tournaments.
Sub-prefecture of Hautes-Pyrenees (65)
Specialities: noir de Bigorre (pork), wine, garbure (soup), onion, Madiran wine.
Economy: spa, tourism, small mechanical and electric industries, agriculture.
Sport: Stade Bagnerais (rugby union), Amicale laïque (canoeing)
Celebrities: Pierre-Georges Latecoere (airman), Jean Gachassin (rugby, tennis), Laurent Fignon (cycling), Jean-Michel Aguirre, Roland Bertranne (rugby), Wilfried Forgues and Franck Adisson (canoeing Olympic champions in 1996), Adiren Theaux (ski).
Festivals : « piano Pic » classical music festival (July), voice festival “A Voix Haute” (August), Pyrenean Book Fair (October)
Labels: ville fleurie (3), Pic du Midi regional “Grand Site” Midi-Pyrenees
Jersey wearers after the stage 20
Corporate social responsibility
Since it was founded, Amaury Sport Organisation has been involved in various sponsorship and philanthropy activities. It is the generosity of sport that can be found in a certain number of initiatives aiming to invest in the workings of the disciplines themselves (sponsorship of the French Federation of Cycling), in a humanitarian and social framework, (Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, Actions Dakar, Un Techo Para Mi Pais) or in the environmental sphere (Madre De Dios, selective sorting, etc.). Read more
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