A stinging finale
After some 50 kilometers of flat terrain, this stage climbs and descends unremittingly until the finish. The four categorized climbs are enough to put paid to the hopes of an early break, and just hard enough for the top GC teams to make life hard for their rivals.
The GC battle will likely open up on the grippy road to the Cat. 1 Val Louron-Azet, an irregular pass that’s a good launch pad for attacks. Its descent is very fast leading to the early slopes of the Col de Peyresourde prior to what will be a true challenge: 2.4 kilometers of brutal ascending with pitches as steep as 16 percent leading to the altiport at Peyragudes.
This is where Romain Bardet triumphed in 2017, putting 22 seconds into race leader Chris Froome. Coming in the third week of the Tour, these steep percentages could do some even bigger damage this year.