Tarbes has mainly hosted the peloton of the Tour for stage starts. The last finish there 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, first Dutch rider to wear the Yellow Jersey had indeed fallen in a ravine just after reaching the top of the col d’Aubisque. That crash obviously made him loose his overall leadership but more importantly, he survived. “What God watched over Wim van Est?” was the question asked by L’Équipe the following day.

Octave Lapize was the first to reach the top of the Tourmalet while the event visited high mountains for the very first time in 1910. Since then the Giant of the Pyrenees is almost systematically on the path of the riders but only twice has it hosted stage finishes. In 1974, Jean-Pierre Danguillaume surprised the best climbers to capture victory. Then, in 2010, the two best “mountaineers” of the moment, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, had finished the climb together… the advantage going the Luxemburger’s way on the finish line.

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