Before Saturday’s 40km individual time trial, climbers had one final chance to win a mountain stage or move up in the Tour’s General Classification on Stage 18, the final mountain stage of the 2021 Tour de France.
Stage 18 Tour De France 2021
The stage opens with a hill in Lourdes; it’s not too steep, but it’s noticeable enough that riders hoping to get into the breakaway might be doing some pre-race stretches on stationary bicycles.
The route leaves the city to the west and then the south, winding through the foothills of the Pyrenees on its way to the Intermediate Sprint at Laruns.
Right after the race, the Hors Catégorie Col d’Aubisque (16.4km @7.1%), the first of the day’s three categorised summits, begins. Two of the Tour’s infamous “beyond categorization” Hors Catégorie hills are included on today’s stage.
The Aubisque is a brutal beast. After a very mild start, the gradient increases to an average of 8%, with several particularly steep pitches reaching 90%.
The summit is located at an altitude of 1709 metres above sea level and provides a breathtaking view of the Pyrenean peaks. However, they won’t have much time to take it all in because of the long (23 km), treacherous journey back down to the valley.
As soon as the riders descend into the valley, they face the Category 1 Col de Spandelles (10.3 km @ 8.3%).
The Col de Spandelles, which is shorter but steeper than the Aubisque, would be an ideal place for riders planning long-range attacks to win the stage or gain time on GC, except that its summit is located 19 kilometres from the base of the day’s final climb, the Hors Catégorie ascent to the finish line at the Hautacam ski resort.
Stage 18 Tour De France 2021: Riders To Watch
Given that the riders for Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates, and INEOS Grenadiers aren’t likely to worry about a breakaway escaping and building up a large advantage, this is the perfect opportunity for a team that is currently out of contention for the Tour’s General Classification to try and salvage their Tour with a stage win.
Watch out for numerous of the riders that attacked on Stage 17, including Romain Bardet of France (Team DSM), Aleksandr Vlasov of Russia (BORA-hansgrohe), Rigoberto Uran of Colombia (EF Education-EasyPost), and Alexey Lutsenko of Kazakhstan (Astana).
Stage 18 Tour De France 2021: When to Watch
We’ll probably start watching at around 9:30 a.m. EDT, when the cyclists begin the Col d’Aubisque, because we can’t resist a stage through the high Pyrenees.
If you can’t watch at that time, the race will begin its ascent of Hautacam at about 11:00 a.m. EDT. The leaders should be able to make the climb in around 35 minutes. Thanks for reading our article Stage 18 Tour De France 2021.