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Despite still being in the region of the high mountains (Lannemezan is in the Haute-Pyrénées...
Despite still being in the region of the high mountains (Lannemezan is in the Haute-Pyrénées department, and Foix is the capital of Ariège) this stage features very little serious climbing: the only serious obstacle of the day being the first category Col de Portal. Consequently, the course has breakaway written all over it and will suit strong riders who have lost enough time over the preceding two mountain stages for the contenders' teams to let them go.
Both towns have hosted the Tour before in the past, but only as start towns. Lannemezan has been there three times before between 1999 and 2004, the last one of those being Lance Armstrong's second victory on the Plateau de Beille where he narrowly beat Ivan Basso to the line.
Foix has previously hosted two stage starts: in 2001 and 2007. Last year's stage to Loudenvielle-Le Louron saw a battle between overall contenders Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) and Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) on the Col du Peyresourde. In front of them though, Alexander Vinokourov was rebuilding his Tour – after his first week crash – with a storming solo victory. It later became clear exactly where Vino was getting his energy though, and the stage victory has subsequently been awarded to Kim Kirchen (then T-Mobile, now High Road).
For more about this week's racing see Cycling News HD