July 15 Stage 13: Pau to Lourdes, 152.5km (94.8 miles)
With the general classification fully established at Luz-Ardiden, the main contenders will be happy to have an easy day before the even more important third Pyrenean stage coming up. And though this stage climbs the more difficult side of the mythic Col d’Aubisque, a breakaway of riders low on the GC totem pole will almost certainly be well clear before then. Only 13km separates the end of the Aubisque descent from the finish in Lourdes, so a solo rider escaping on the downhill could easily win the stage. If not, two sharp downhill turns in the last kilometer might influence an eventual group sprint.
THE SCOOP: The Tour has only once held a stage finish in the pilgrim city of Lourdes. That was in 1948 after a mountain stage over the Aubisque and ended in a three-man sprint taken by that year’s eventual winner Gino Bartali of Italy ahead of two French riders, defending champion Jean Robic and a future champion Louison Bobet.
OVERALL RATING: ***