Stage 8 will have 4 difficult categorized climbs over the 184 km course. The race kicks off in Pau heading southeast out of town and turns east at Luz-Saint-Sauveur where the road starts to get steeper as the riders approach the Col du Tourmalet. This is a 19 km climb at 7.4% average grade Hors Categorie (HC) climb that starts around 67 km. Then an 18 km descent through the town of Sainte-Marie de Campan. The incline towards the category 2 climb up Hourquette d'Ancizan starts immediately on the way out of town. While only 4.9% grade at 8.2 km long, the climb will keep the pressure on. The descent features narrow steep roads into Guchen and on to the category 1 Col de Val Louron-Azet. The descent off of this climb has a series of 10 switchbacks on the way into Loudenvielle. The final category 1 climb before the run into Bagnères-de-Luchon is the Col de Peyresourde, which at only 7.1 km long has an average gradient of 7.8%. The descent into the finish is much less technical and flattens out over the last 4 km with several tight turns in the last km to the line.
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Wind will not be an issue for the riders. It will be a very mild tailwind with a slight cross wind in the run to the finish. Weather should be dry so roads will be good for fast descents. Temperatures will be relatively warm again at 25 to 26 degrees, so riders will definitely feel the heat as they climb. While steep, the climbs in the Pyrenees are not at high altitude, so temps will not drop much near the summits.
Stage 8 is the first real stage for the true climbers. Because stage 7 only featured one major climb it allowed riders to attack, get-a-way, and others to stick with the group that will most likely not be there at the end of this stage. A great descender may try to make a move on the second climb up Hourquette d'Ancizan to put time into the group on the narrow roads down into Guchan. Similarly the descent into Loudenvielle off of Col de Val Louron-Azet could allow for some breaks heading into the final climb. The run into the finish is long and not overly technical so a solo rider could stay away similar to Steve Cummings in today's stage. In this stage expect the GC riders to start testing each other. Nairo Quintana already hinted at this strategy with a little attack on the final climb in Stage 5. The GC riders won't mind if another small break or solo rider goes for the stage win as they will continue to mark each other and try to crack one or two off. If you switch to the power plan below you will see how varied the power and speed will be on the stage. On the steepest sections of the climbs speeds will drop to 12 km/h (7.5 mph). These are areas where climbers can put in little short efforts to test the other riders. In the Time Analysis tab move the power slider to 0 and adjust the weight slider down to ~60 kg. It's immediately apparent just how much weight and watts/kg plays in the mountain. This shows why the smaller riders that can still maintain higher power decimate the field when the course gets into the steeper mountains.