Pyrénnées Part Deux: Exploring Stage 10


Now that you've had a chance to snack on Stage 9 and get a taste of the delicacy known as Haute Pyrenees, it's time for the main parcourse. A couple of cat 3's as side dishes then two delicious heapin' helpin's of mountains that are so nasty, so brutal, so shattering that the French couldn't even find a way to categorize them.

(Both Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam Fly Overs Added...)

The stage starts in Pau and proceeds southeast over two Cat.3 climbs before curling back towards the west and north, crossing first the Col de Tourmalet and then ending at a summit finish at Hautacam.



It's a rolling day, not too much in the flats and seems to gain elevation throughout most of the day, with the fireworks highlighted in red again in the distance.



The first rated climb is the Cat.3 Côte de Bénéjacq, coming after the teams ride through the city of, you guessed it, Bénéjacq.  The city to the far right is called Nay... not Nee, nor Icky-Icky-Icky-P'tang-Neewhong-Rrrrrrrrrrr; there are, undoubtedly, shrubberies.



The next is the Cat.3 Loucrup... it is neither a côte nor a col, it's simply Loucrup.  Deal with it.



We'll pass through the finishing town of the previous stage and roll down South against the grain from stage 9 that went North after descending from the Col d'Aspin (the high ridges in the upper left of the graphic).



Now we climb the Col de Tourmalet... proving to be really Grippy racing... Get it... "Gripp"... "Grippy"??!?



Up the valley there is a nutty little kick off to the left that seems to really start the ascending proper, then curving back around the ridgeline and into the hanging valley towards the summit.




The max gradient of 10% is nearly within view of the Col de Tourmalet summit, but not within the last few km like both of yesterday's nastiness.  As they pass over that, the saddle with the summit should be in relative view the entire rest of the slog to the top.



Now for a nice crazy little descent... maybe not as crazy as the Giro's Stage 20 descent into Tirano (marred by rain as I recall), but it certainly looks technical



The riders will get about a 20km break from the heavy lifting, passing through a pair of valleys going from Barèges to Chèze to Prèchac, and then it starts again. Up... Up... Up... to Hautacam...




The route really gets bonkers right after passing through Artalens-Souin, with long stretches that should really get the heart rate meters blowing.



Once you get around that tight right-hander on the lower left of the graphic, it's all pain all the time... with a gradient in excess of 10% coming within 2 km of the summit / finish.



Looks suitably brutal to me :)