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2020 Tour de France stage 8 preview

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(Image credit: ASO)
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(Image credit: ASO)

Stage 8: Cazères-sur-Garonne - Loudenvielle

Date: September 5, 2020 

Distance: 141km 

Stage start: 1:30 p.m. CEST

Stage type: Mountain  

At last, a stage that looks like a traditional, regular day on the Tour de France. The 2020 Tour hits the third mountain range of the race with a roller coaster route through the Pyrenees. It is probably the hardest stage so far, featuring the first hors catègorie climb of the race, the Port de Balès, and it is the shortest road stage of the Tour at 141km. It is also a more predictable affair, and therefore easier to manage by the teams. It will be hard climbing for most of the day, and only the best climbers will be in contention. 

The first of three categorised climbs is the Col de Menté, which will set the scene for the action 59.5km from the first-time start in Cazères-sur-Garonne, the train station near Cazères. The Menté is 18km long, then provides a bit of a reprieve before the Port de Balès, which tops out two thirds of the way through the stage. The HC climb is 11.7km long and has an average gradient of 7.7 per cent. Once over the top with about 35km to go, there’s no time to relax, as the descent of the Balès spits riders out above the steep hairpins out of Bagnères-de-Luchon, which means that part of the climb is taken out of the equation. From where the riders join the Peyresourde, it’s a steady climb until the much steeper stack of hairpins at the top.

The really interesting aspect of the parcours is the final climb of the day, the category 1 Col de Peyresourde. It’s a hard climb, though the route today lessens the challenge a little. It’s not quite the territory for race-winning attacks, save for the fact that ASO are offering a time bonus at the top of the climb in Loudenvielle. An aggressive rider could therefore consider two gains - eight seconds at the top, plus however much they can gain by the finish. The aim is to encourage at least some jeopardy before a wary group of favourites marks each other out of attacking and rides in together.

What’s also certain is that the first Pyrenean stage of the 2020 Tour, coming off the back of one of the toughest and most complicated first weeks ever, will see the first real signs of the final GC settling into place.

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