ETAPE du TOUR 2012 Pyrenees Stage
The Pyrenees stage of the 2012 Etape du Tour climbs some magnificent mountains!
It offers some of the very best views in the Pyrenees!
Let’s analyse the route one mountain at a time!
Pau to Col d’Aubisque
We leave Pau along a flat road with a good surface, which remains fairly flat for the next 20 miles. There are one or two small sharp hills on the way! When we reach Laruns, the road turns left and we begin the ascent. For the first 2.5 miles, the gradient is mild, hovering around 5%, until the town of Eaux Bonnes. Leaving the town, the gradient increases to 8%, then slackens. After this the climbing really starts, averaging 8% to 9% and peaking at 13%! It will certainly be a relief to arrive at the final stretch before the summit, where the gradient slackens off!!
Aubisque to Soulor
There follows one of the nicest stretches of road in the Pyrenees – a balcony route with unsurpassed views.
There is a short tunnel, and strolling livestock on this stretch to add to the interest! A short climb takes us up to the Col de Soulor.
Col du Souler to Col du Tourmalet
The descent from Soulor is one of the fastest and most interesting in the Pyrenees, with wide roads and plenty of bends! On reaching the bottom we enter the Gorge de la Luz, 7.5 miles of gently rising road with a rushing torrential river alongside.
If the weather is hot, you may feel like wading in to cool down! It is possible to snatch quick chilled lemonade when you arrive at the town of Luz St Sauveur to cool down if you have some spare change! After the steepening road of the town, the real climbing begins, rising to around 7% for the first 4.5 miles up to Bareges, where the gradient increases into 7% to 10% territory. In the final mile and a half the gradient increases to 10% then 14% - then the Col!
Tourmalet to Aspen
The descent of Tourmalet is fast and scenic down to the Campan Valley, where the start of the climb of Aspin begins. Although the average gradient of Aspin is only 5%, it is typically 8% through the forested section. The reward is an exciting curving 8 mile descent to the town of Arreau.
Peyresourde to Bagneres de Luchon
And so to the final mountain! Overall it represents about 6.5 miles of 6.6%, which consists of an undulating section for 1.5 miles, followed by 5 miles of 8% to 9%. At last – the final descent – an 8 mile glide, down to the finish!