Tour de France Stage 18 Preview
Thursday, July 15
129.7km (mountains, summit finish)
Pyrénées V: A climbing classic
The stage is short but promises a great deal with its classic combination of the Col du Tourmalet and Luz-Ardiden—whose difficulty should again rule out the success of an early breakaway. It’s the last mountain stage and, therefore, the last chance for the climbers to gain time on the rouleurs before the final time trial, which could, as it did in the 2020 Tour, produce one final reshuffling of the pack. We can expect battle to commence on the Tourmalet, but the 13-kilometer ascent to Luz-Ardiden often sees a surprise winner, including a young Miguel Induráin in 1990 and veteran Samuel Sánchez in 2011 (the last time a Tour stage finished here). Bearing in mind the misfortune experienced by Roglič last year in the stage 20 time trial, it’s by no means certain that the podium will be set on this final Pyrenean stage. After his dominant stage 17 victory, yellow jersey Pogačar has an unassailable lead, but the fight for the podium between Vingegaard, Carapaz, Urán and O’Connor should be fierce on the 13-kilometer finishing climb.
After a climb of 13.3km averaging 7.4 percent, at the end of a 130m straight on the 18 feet wide D921.
SCHEDULE (all times EDT)
Ceremonial start, Place de Verdun, Pau: 7:35 a.m.; start on D285 at Gelos (after 6.4km neutral to km0), 7:50 a.m.; Côte de Notre-Dame de Piétat (Cat. 4, 119.1km to go), 8:08 a.m.; Lourdes (88.8km to go), 9:00 a.m.; Côte de Loucrup (Cat. 4, 75.1km to go), 9:15 a.m.; Pouzac (sprint, 67 to go), 9:28 a.m.; Sainte-Marie-de-Campan (52.8km to go), 9:49 a.m.; Col du Tourmalet (Hors-Cat. 1, 35.6km to go), 10:31 a.m.; Luz-Saint-Sauveur (17.1km to go), 10:52 a.m.; Luz-Ardiden (Hors-Cat, finish, 129.7km), 11:30 a.m.
Analysis by Thierry Gouvenou and John Wilcockson.