This year is no different with four days of racing, 720km total distance and guest appearances by those popular cycling stars Col d'Aspin and big, bad Col du Tourmalet in Stage 2. Port de Bales, as featured in the 2007 and 2010 Tours is also a feature and at 1755m will test the mettle of those who take it on in today's Stage 3.
|Houses along the Agout. Lovely, but I bet rats are a problem|
Today's Stage 3 is far less mountainous with little fluctuation in altitude before Col du Mente and an ascent not far short of 1000m. As the road to the top of Port de Bales begins at a higher point, the ascent is once again around 1000m, but being so much higher than Col du Mente the effects of altitude are greater and make it a harder climb. Charteau may prove to be the right man for the job once again in this section, but Kiriyienka won't give him an easy time of it. Davide Rebellin, back from his suspension after failing a dope test and rapidly approaching 40 years of age, took third place yesterday and there's every reason for him to do the same today.
Stage 4 is a different matter entirely, being downhill almost all the way of its 143km to Pau, declared by poet Alphonse de Lamartine to have "the world's most beautiful view of the Earth." The sprinters will seize their chance to shake up the overall standings over this stage, which makes it very difficult to even guess who might be declared the race's eventual winner.