The two stages of the 2013 Tour de France that are contested in the Pyrenees are both tough but for different reasons. Stage eight had the highest climb of the 100th edition followed shortly after by the tough ascent to Ax-3-Domaines and that provided the launch pad for Froome to demonstrate that he's the best climber in the race. And that his team-mate, room-mate and good mate, Richie Porte is the second best. This pair was first and second on day one in the high mountains and they are the dominant duo of the peloton but it need not translate to a repeat scenario in stage nine.
The profile for the second Pyrenean stage is up, down, up, down... over and over and over again. There are five cols and, according to some who have ridden them, they get nastier the closer the peloton gets to Bagnère-de-Bigorre.
The Hourquette d'Ancizan returns and this is the final challenge for the peloton at the end of what is a relatively short stage in the mountains. Never is there a moment of reprieve and although it's the climbs that will split the peloton, the descents will also test the nerve of everyone: the racers as well as the viewers who are likely to be on the edge of their seats while the watching what is bound to be a rollercoaster ride through the beautiful southern mountain range.
The blue line of the Sky team will be ahead of another team captain in yellow; the lessons learned from leading Sir Bradley Wiggins to victory a year ago will come in handy and so will the super-domestiques who will defend Froome's lead from start to finish. Who dare challenge them? We'll soon find out.