2003 ETAPE ROUTE
Orolon St Marie
La Pierre St Martin
Col de Soudet
Col de Larrau
Col de Bagargui
Col de Burdincurutcheta
St Jean Pied de Port
Map: Michelen map 234 - Aquitaine. For even more detail see IGN map 69 - Pau Bayonne!
Its a long route at nearly 125 miles. The start is at Pau, in the Western Pyrenees, an attractive town often favoured by the Tour de France’s organisers.
It crosses two major mountains, via Col de Soudet and Col de Bagargui, though there are a total of five cols in all.
The altitudes are not quite as high as some previous Etapes, the highest point being 1540m. One of the key features of this Etape is its length, being nearly 125 miles.
After the grueling climbs, there are 50 miles of undulating terrain, being down hill on average dropping from over 3000 feet to nearly sea level!
Unlike the 2002 Etape, there are long stretches of nearly flat/undulating terrain. The initial 50km will be enjoyable for enthusiastic racers, and a good chance for them to wear themselves out before they hit the mountains!
The final 50Km is again flat/undulating, and will be a brilliant relief for those exhausted by the climbs, and an opportunity for those with strength left to gain a better finishing position.
Altogether an interesting choice, with some difficult climbs, descents both steep and moderate, and long undulating sections which should favour those who are not fortunate enough to live and train in the mountains!