Sunday, 15 July 2012
2012 Tour de France: intriguing first Pyrenean stage
Today's stage from Limoux to Foix is the first of three critical stages in the Pyrénées. These three stages will be the last real opportunities for the leading contenders to gain time on Bradley Wiggins before next Saturday's time trial. After starting from Limoux – the second sparkling wine town used in this year's Tour – the riders will tackle three categorised climbs within 191K. The Col du Portel (2nd Cat), the Port de Lers (1st Cat) and the tough Mur de Péguère which has some very steep sections – up to 18% – in the second half of the narrow 9.3k climb.
Wiggins is likely to be attacked on the Mur by Vincenzo Nibali and Cadel Evans, although the top of the climb is nearly 40K from the first in Foix. The Mur climb starts in the little village of Massat, where in the early 80's we found a restaurant that had a cache of reasonably priced 1961 Bordeaux. I remember we chose a 1961 Figeac, which was fantastic, even though it was served in tiny glasses.