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On to the Pyrenees: Exploring Stage 9

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UPDATED: Now with YouTubery

Well... finally the Pyrenees are upon us and it's going to start off with some nice rolling stuff before sticking the knife in the gut with the Peyresourde and the d'Aspin.  From the looks of it, the Cat.4 climbs don't look so bad on the satellite pics, which makes me think that they are rated that way because of nasty gradient or something.  Anway, onto the pics...

Unfortunately, the maps provided by ASO aren't quite as detailed as the ones that were provided by the Giro so I've had to guestimate the locations of the Cols, Côtes and gradient areas based on what I could find on climbbybike.com.

(Note: the pics below do pop into a slightly larger / better resolution image.)

First, the overall map showing the route from Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre.  The red sections are the Cat.3: Col des Ares and the Cat.1 Col de Peyresourde and Col d'Aspin.

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Rolling south, the riders will make a turn west at Lezat-sur-Leze and head towards a pair of Cat 4 climbs that hit one after another.

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After passing through Cazeres and chasing down the banks of the Garonne river, they will turn sharply again in Mane and start the run towards the big climbs, first going over the Cat.4 Côte de Mane and then heading towards the Sengouagnet in the distance and the Pyrenees proper.

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Now it starts getting really lumpy and I think it avoids all impressions of flatness until the last five km or so of the stage.  Just past Sengouagnet, it's onto the slopes of the Col de Buret, through the pass and into a plateau, headed right towards the Cat.3 Col des Ares.

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They climb up the face of the ridgeline, fighting across switchbacks before going over the ridge entirely through the Col and then descending around the North face of the mountain arm.

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The descent heads into the village of Fronsac and passes through Cierp-Gaud for a nice valley run to Bagnères-de-Luchon.


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Now it starts... climbing almost immediately out of town and not stopping for quite some time as they rise to the Col de Peyresourde...


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They have to work to within 3 curves of the summit before hitting the max gradient of 9.8%

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Then a quick descent into Estarvielle before they get to start doing it alll over again, because the Col d'Aspin is just ahead in only 10km.

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Slight, but increasing gradient takes them up and up and then it's a hairpin climb back and forth across the ridgeline, working to the summit of the pass

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Again, the max gradient is almost right at the summit, ensuring that you get the maximum suffering at the worst possible time.

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Then, a certain man by the name of Sammy Sanchez will reach into the suitcase of courage and have himself a moment of glory (we hope) as the descent from d'Aspin will require taking all kinds of risks and result in very grippy racing.
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It finally levels out in Campan for the last few klicks to the finish at Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

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