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July 13 post: Stage 13 is the second mountain stage, but other than the picturesque, difficult hors categorie Col d'Aubisque cresting at the 2/3 point of this stage, it's quite tame. After the climb, you'll see why the section between Col d'Aubisque and Col du Soulor is considered one of the most spectacular rides for recreational cyclists (see the photos link below).

Starting in Pau which is hosting the Tour for the 64th time, the race will scale the more difficult west side of Col d'Aubisque (profile, 16.4 km @ 7.1 %) where a break will form before descending to the flat finish in Lourdes which is only hosting a Tour stage for the third time. It's 42 km from the top of Col d'Aubisque to the finish in Lourdes. Interesting fact: With more than 5 million visitors per year, Lourdes is the third most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world after the Vatican and Mexico’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

As race director Jean-François Pescheux says “This is a stage that will suit the breakaway specialists, the baroudeurs, who can take some big climbs in their stride.” The GC contenders are expected to take the day off inbetween the Luz-Ardiden and Plateau de Beille summit finishes of Stage 12 and Stage 14. FDJ's Pierrick Fédrigo is good at these sort of the stages having won two stages in the past exhibiting a similar profile, but he's not racing the Tour this year. So look for another rider whose a good climber with a decent sprint like Luis Leon Sanchez. — Steve

Cycling Col du Soulor and Col d'Aubisque : history and touring report —