Tarbes has mainly hosted the peloton of the Tour for stage starts. The last finish here saw the victory of Pierrick Fédrigo in 2009. On the previous occasion, in 1951, the day had been marked by a spectacular crash: Wim van Est, the first Dutch rider to wear the yellow jersey, had fallen down a ravine just after crowning the Aubisque. Although the crash obviously cost him the overall lead, he survived. “What god was watching over Wim van Est?”, wondered L’Équipe the following day.
Octave Lapize was the first to reach the top of the Tourmalet when the event visited high mountains for the very first time in 1910. Since then, the Giant of the Pyrenees is almost always on the path of the riders, but it has only hosted two stage finishes. In 1974, Jean-Pierre Danguillaume surprised the best climbers to seize victory. Then, in 2010, the top two mountain goats of the moment, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, finished the climb together… the advantage going the Luxembourger's way on the finish line.