Stage 14: Tarbes-Col du Tourmalet
Date: July 20, 2019
Distance: 117.5 km
Stage type: Mountain
This is the first of an unprecedented three stage finishes above the 2,000-metre mark. It will take place atop the Tour's favourite pass, the Col du Tourmalet, which will feature for the 87th time. This, though, will be just the third summit finish here following Jean-Pierre Danguillaume's victory in 1974 and Andy Schleck's in 2010.
At just 117km, the stage is very short. From the start in Tarbes, the opening kilometres should be frenetic, as the GC teams look to place riders in the break who can support their leaders on the final ascent, while other teams want to have riders in it who might have a shot at the stage win, assuming the big guns are more focused on each other than what's happening ahead of them.
The parcours follows an anti-clockwise loop around Lourdes to reach Ferrières and the foot of the first-category climb of the Col du Soulor, 12 kilometres of ascent and then 19 of descent to Argelès-Gazost. The road starts to rise again as it tracks the rushing waters of the Gave de Gavarnie to reach Luz-Saint-Sauveur, where the 19km ascent of the Tourmalet begins. It rises steadily for the most part, but kicks up more steeply over the last three kilometres above the ski resort of Super Barèges.
Bearing in mind the high-altitude tests that pepper the Tour's final week, it will be interesting to note the riders who look most at ease and those who struggle in those closing kilometres. Naturally, the Colombians are expected to thrive, and Nairo Quintana will undoubtedly have to if he is to shake off the nearly-man tag and capture the yellow jersey to complete a set Grand Tour titles.
In addition to Quintana, there should be plenty of other climbers who will be looking to make up ground lost in the time trial and to light this stage up, including Enric Mas, Jakob Fuglsang, Steven Kruiswijk, Thibaut Pinot, and, of course, French favourite Romain Bardet.