On paper, this final mountain stage doesn’t appear to be as challenging as the other three days in the Pyrénées. There are two Cat. 1 climbs, but the last is 87km from the finish in Bayonne. On the other hand, from where the Col du Soudet begins climbing after 51km until the end of the descent of the Col de Burdincurutcheta 80km later, the riders will be on narrow, tortuous back roads with constant ups and downs. The climbs are steep: The Soudet has 15-percent pitches and an average of 7.5 percent for 14km; the Côte de Larrau averages 10.5 percent for 2.4km; and the Col de Bagargui, 9.2 percent for 8.8km. The final 60km has several short hills to keep things split up.
7/23/2003 Start Time: 11:36:00am
7/23/2003 Estimated Finish Time: 5:35:00pm
The Tour has visited these climbs very few times and not in the direction that this stage will take the race. In 1987, the Bayonne-Pau stage climbed the Burdincurutcheta, descended the Bagargui and climbed the back side of the Soudet; it was that Tour’s first mountain stage and resulted in a four-up break finishing almost four minutes ahead of a 30-man chase group; the main pack was a half-hour behind.