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STAGE 14: ST. GIRONS — LOUDENVIELLE

None of the six climbs on this classic 191.5km mountain stage is particularly long or high, but six hours of racing in potentially adverse weather will be a challenge. The three climbs in the last 70km, all Cat. 1, are the most difficult, particularly the narrow, winding Col de Menté, which averages 8.2 percent for 7km. This will soften up the field for the 8.3km Portillon (that comes during a brief foray into Spain) and the 13km Peyresourde, from which the race plunges to the finish in Loudenvielle. 7/20/2003 Start Time: 11:15:00am7/20/2003 Estimated Finish Time: 5:26:00pm HISTORY All

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None of the six climbs on this classic 191.5km mountain stage is particularly long or high, but six hours of racing in potentially adverse weather will be a challenge. The three climbs in the last 70km, all Cat. 1, are the most difficult, particularly the narrow, winding Col de Menté, which averages 8.2 percent for 7km. This will soften up the field for the 8.3km Portillon (that comes during a brief foray into Spain) and the 13km Peyresourde, from which the race plunges to the finish in Loudenvielle.

7/20/2003 Start Time: 11:15:00am
7/20/2003 Estimated Finish Time: 5:26:00pm

HISTORY
All these climbs have been included in previous Tours, but often in the opposite direction, and sometimes as a prelude to a mountaintop finish elsewhere. The downhills have often played a bigger part than the climbs, sometimes tragically. It was on the ultra-steep descent of the Portet d’Aspet that Italian Fabio Casartelli met his death in 1995. Spain’s Luis Ocaña, when leading the 1971 Tour, crashed out of the race during a thunderstorm on one of the switchbacks of the Menté descent. And a couple of years ago Jan Ullrich fell into a creek coming down the Peyresourde— if that happens this year don’t expect Armstrong to wait because the finish is only 4km away, not 40. Laurent Brochard was the winner of the only Tour stage to finish at Loudenvielle in 1997.