Stage 12 in the Tour de France is a 214 kilometres toil in the Pyrenees. The riders are to crest five cols to arrive in Peyragudes after a 2.4 kilometres closing climb of 8.4%.
Stage 12 is set to finish on is the runway of the airport of Peyragudes. The ski resort in the Pyrenees hosted a Tour de France stage in 2014, yet earlier fame befell the place in 1997 with a scene in the James Bond-movie Tomorrow never Dies.
After leaving Pau the riders head for Tournay and then the Pyrenees. The muscles can be stretched at Côte de Capvern before Col de Menté looms with 123 kilometres done. This is a 9.2 kilometres climb of 9% with steepest slopes of 16%.
164 kilometres into the race the riders tackle the climb to the highest point of stage 12: Port de Balès. The mountain, peaking at an elevation of 1,755 metres, is crested after a 18.9 kilometres toil, giving it the label hors catégorie. The average gradient is 6.3% with steepest sectors of up to 11.1%.
Port de Balès was introduced in the 2007 Tour de France, yet it was only after the infamous ‘chaingate’ incident in 2010 the climb became notorious. Race leader Andy Schleck was setting the pace when he dropped his chain. Alberto Contador attacked and took over the yellow jersey.
In the finale of the 12th stage the Col de Peyresourde looms. In fact the climb is the Peyresourde’s twin brother. The double-barreled ascent totals 15.4 kilometres at 5.1%, while the last part to ‘James Bond Airport’ is a 2.4 kilometres slog of 8.4%.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses at 10, 6 and 4 seconds.