On paper this looks like a test for the time trial specialists, although much the same was said of the Tour de France's TT in Pau in July and Julian Alaphilippe managed to best them with his punchy power on the short climbs and daredevil skills on the descents.
At 36.1km, this time trial is significantly longer than the Tour's. It starts in Jurançon, which is renowned for its sweetish white wine. It begins with a climb, rising almost 150 metres in the opening 3km, twisting almost all the way through the rolling vineyards. It then levels out for a dozen kilometres that will certainly suit specialists such as Jumbo Visma's Tony Martin and Primoz Roglic, Ag2r's Pierre Latour and perhaps UAE's precocious talent, Tadej Pogacar, who was crowned Slovenia's national TT champion in June.
After dropping down from this plateau, the course begins to climb and twist once again towards Saint Faust, which is reached via a couple of hairpin bends. Just gained, that height is almost immediately lost as the course drops down to run between the meadows that form the floodplain on the southern side of the Gave de Pau. After a blast of full-on power for half a dozen very flat and straight kilometres, the course returns to the streets of Jurançon, then crosses the river and starts to climb towards the finish in the centre of Pau.
The key for the pure climbers will be to limit their losses as much as possible, most obviously to Roglic, who won a time trial of similar length in San Marino at the Giro d'Italia. Richard Carapaz lost 1-55 that day, Esteban Chaves more than three minutes and Miguel Angel López the thick end of four.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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