After two hard days of a totally different nature in the Pyrenees and before more big climbs to come, stage 18 gives some respite to the riders who have been used to having several consecutive mountain stages in Grand Tours.
This is also a new way to come up with the route. Pau is a bit too far away from the giants of the Pyrenees but a necessary meeting point on the route. It's the only French city that has a deputy mayor exclusively assigned to the task of hosting the Tour de France.
The city of King Henri IV is set to become the second most visited town after Paris with the 70th time this year, only 10 behind Bordeaux that is not a trend anymore as the wine capital is geographically not compatible with the strategic locations of the event (mountain top finish or hilly time trial the day before the final show in Paris). A breakaway is very likely to succeed in Pau like in 2012 with Pierrick Fedrigo. Last year it was a bunch sprint won by Marcel Kittel but coming from the north, before the Pyrenean stages.