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July 18 post: 100 years ago when the Pyrénées were first used in the Tour de France, Bagneres de Luchon, the stage 15 finish, was the first stop. Since then Bagneres de Luchon, a valley town, has been used 50 times by the Tour, once every two years if my math is correct.

Starting north of the Pyrénées in Pamiers, a first time host, we'll head south and re-enter the Pyrénées at St-Girons, a popular base camp for recreational cyclists. Over the remaining 118 km, we'll cross two cat 2 climbs and then the pivotal hors catègorie Port de Balès (19.3 km of 6.1 %), rarely been used by the Tour, cresting just 22 km from the finish.

From the top of Port de Balès, it's a long, harrowing descent to the finish in Bagneres de Luchon (). There is only three km of flat cycling to the finish so the descent should decide the outcome. A strong climber and equally strong descender like Samual Sanchez will win this stage. Given the historical importance of this finish and it's proximity to Spain, a Spaniard like Sanchez will be extra-motivated on this day. — Steve

Stage 15 climbs
Km 30.0 - Côte de Carla-Bayle - 3.1 km climb to 4.1 % - Category 4
Km 105.0 - Col de Portet-d'Aspet - 5.8 km climb to 6.8 % - Category 2
Km 126.5 - Col des Ares - 6.1 km climb to 4.7 % - Category 2
Km 166.0 - Port de Balès - 19.3 km climb to 6.1 % - Category HC

  Michael Barry, Brad Wiggins, Steve Cumming recon'ing the descend of Port de Bales (08:01) — michaelbarry
  Bernard Hinault Previews Stage 15 in english and en français (01:26) —
  Bob Roll Previews Stage 15 (01:33) — versus

(Y! 2010 Edition)