A guide to the Tour de France
A guide to Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2016. Stage 10 of the 2016 Tour is 197km from Escaldes Engordany to Revel, via Canillo, Soldeu, Pas de la Casa, l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre, Mérens-les-Vals, Ax-les-Thermes, Luzenac, Tarascon-sur-Ariège, Mercus-Garrabet, Nalzen, Lavelanet, Aigues-Vives, Mirepoix, Plavilla, Fendeille, and Castelnaudary. This stage has the Category 1 climb of the Port d'Envalira, to 2,408m, after 24km, then no more climbs until the 3rd Category Côte de Saint-Ferréol 7km before the finish. There's an intermediate sprint at Aigues-Vives. After the Côte de Saint-Ferréol, it's downhill or flat to the finish. Read about Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2016 here.
This is Christian Prudhomme's view of the stage: 'Not any kind of rider will be able to take off early and shine on this stage made for spectacular attacks. Only the most determined and solid men will manage to seize their chance when leaving Andorra to immediately take on the climb to the Port d'Envalira. And once in Revel, the final 6-kilometre hill leading to the finish line seems made for the most volatile punchers.'
Read the Stage 10 race report.
Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2016 is 197km from Escaldes Engordany to Revel.
|Sprints||Aigues-Vives (after 122.5km)|
Port d'Envalira (Category
Côte de Saint-Ferréol (Category 3)
There's an official map of Stage 10, Tour de France 2016.
This is the official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 10:
Stage 10 profile, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers
These are some of the Stage 10 timings (based on the medium estimated speed of 42kmh):
|Départ fictif in Escaldes Engordany, Andorra||1230|
|0||Départ réel Escaldes Engordany||1235|
|24||Port d'Envalira (Category 1)||1331|
|28.5||Pas de la Casa||1337|
|190||Côte de Saint-Ferréol (Category 3)||1703|
See the full timings for Stage 10 on the Tour de France website, based on average speeds of 44, 42, and 40kmh.
Stage 10 starts in Escaldes Engordany, a town known for its hot springs, which merges into Andorra la Vella, the capital of the Principality of Andorra.
The départ fictif is at 1230, and the riders roll out on the CG2 in the direction of Encamp. Five minutes later, the flag goes down for the départ réel.
This map shows the first part of Stage 10, from the start to l'Hospitalet-près-l''Andorre:
Leaving Escaldes Engordany, the riders head east on the CG2 via Encamp, alongside the Valira d'Orient river.
(Encamp is a town on the Valira d'Orient river. It's also a ski resort, with a funitel linking the town to the Grandvalira ski area to the east, and thus also to the resorts of Pas de la Casa and Soldeu).
Like Stage 9, it's uphill straight away on Stage 10. The climb proper starts 1.4km after the départ réel.
The climb of the Port d'Envalira is 22.6km on the CG2, alongside the Valira d'Orient river, with the Grandvalira ski area to the riders' right. After Encamp, it goes through Canillo, then past the Sant Joan de Caselles church.
The climb continues to el Tarter and Soldeu, at the foot of the Vall d'Incles.
Beyond Soldeu, hairpin bends lead to the summit at 2,408m. This is the highest tarmacked road in the Pyrenees. (Most vehicle traffic avoids the top of the Port d'Envalira, taking the Tunnel d'Envalira instead).
The altitude at the start is about 1,160m, so the height gain
to the top is 1,248m, and the average gradient is 5.5%.
The GC contenders probably won't be interested in this climb, as it's much too far from the finish to conceive of staying ahead for the rest of the stage. However, the leading riders in the King of the Mountains competition will be looking to score points.
Over the other side of the Port d'Envalira, at 2,100m, is the ski resort of Pas de la Casa.
After Pas de la Casa, the race crosses back into France, and the Pyrénées Orientales département, then after a short distance, the Ariège département. The first village in France is l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre.
This map shows the second part of the route, from l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre to Ax-les-Thermes:
The race route follows the N20/N22, and the Ariège river until after Tarascon-sur-Ariège. In effect, there's a 60km descent from the Port d'Envalira to Tarascon-sur-Ariège, which can't be bad. If I could choose one section of the Tour de France to ride, and try and keep up with the pros, this might be it.
The Pic d'Auriol is to the right as the route descends from l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre; it goes through the Forêt de Mérens, to Mérens-les-Vals (at the confluence of the Nabre and the Mourguillou wih the Ariège).
The riders continue to descend to Ax-les Thermes. They go through the centre of Ax (Ax, la ville so relax!).
This map shows the next part of the route, from Ax-les-Thermes to Tarascon-sur-Ariège:
Back on the N20 after visiting the centre of Ax, the race passes through Savignac-les-Ormeaux and Luzenac. (Luzenac is a village with a large talc plant. Talc is a mineral which is used in paper, paint, plastics, cosmetics, and talcum powder. The local football club is called Luzenac Ariège Pyrénées, and Fabien Barthez was honorary president. The club won promotion to Ligue 2, but was not allowed to go up because the stadium wasn't up to standard).
The route continues via the village of Lassur (so-called because it had a convent; Lassur is a corruption of 'la soeur', the sister, referring to nuns), and passes les Cabannes. (Les Cabannes is a commune which lives from forestry, agriculture, and tourism - with cross-country skiing on the Plateau de Beille to the south of the village).
The N20 continues to Sinsat (where you can buy handmade biscuits at the old water mill), then passes a number of caves on the left - la Spoulga de Bouan, a fortified cave which was a refuge for heretic Cathars, la Grotte de Sainte-Eulalie, and the Grotte de Lombrives, which is said to be the largest cavern in Europe, with the longest visit lasting 7 hours.
(The Grotte de Lombrives gets mixed reviews on Tripadvisor. Visitors are agreed that it is a natural wonder, but some find the arrangements for tourists unsatisfactory: 'The whole place is overgrown and a little hard to find...There is also a bizarre no photo rule, you would think this down on its heels attraction would want all the free publicity via selfies it could muster, but they don't get it.')
In the next town on the route, Tarascon-sur-Ariège, Stage 10 leaves the N20, and takes the D618 along the right bank of the Ariège. This map shows the next part of the route, as far as Aigues-Vives:
The D618 takes the riders through Bompas and Mercus-Garrabet (which has an aluminium factory and a base nautique with water skiing). At Saint-Antoine (in the commune of Saint-Paul-de-Jarrat), they turn right on the D117, and go via Celles (the name Celles deriving from cella, meaning monastery) and Nalzen to Lavelanet.
Place de l'Europe, Lavelanet
(Lavelanet is a town and commune of 6,312 people, on the Touyré river. Its name comes from the Occitan avelana, meaning hazelnut. Historically, Lavelanet was a textiles town, with the industry beginning in the Middle Ages, and reaching its zenith in the C20th. There's a textile museum. The ski resort of Monts d'Olmes is within the commune, south of the town of Lavelanet. Former France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez was born in Lavelanet).
In Lavelanet, the riders take the D625 north, initially alongside the river Touyré, via Dreuilhe and Laroque-d'Olmes (which has a factory making fabric for car seats; Fabien Barthez spent much of his childhood in Laroque-d'Olmes) to Aigues-Vives.
(Aigues-Vives means 'living waters', and it is so-called because there are springs in the hills surrounding the village. Aigues-Vives is on the Countirou stream).
The day's intermediate sprint is in Aigues-Vives.
Profile of intermediate sprint at Aigues-Vives, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers
This map shows the next part of the route, from Aigues-Vives to Sainte-Foi:
From Aigues-Vives, the race continues on the D625 to Saint-Quentin-la-Tour (a village of 330 people; a short distance to the east of Saint-Quentin is the Chateau de Queille) and la Bastide-de-Bousignac (a ville bastide founded in the C13th). Then, it's on to Mirepoix.
After crossing the Grand Hers, the riders turn right on the D119, then left on the D28/D6. They pass the hamlet of Sainte-Foi (where I'm expecting at least 22 of the 23 inhabitants to be out cheering on 12th July), then leave the Ariège département, and enter the Aude.
This map shows the next part of the route:
In the Aude, the first village on the route is Plavilla. According to Wikipedia, Plavilla has the lowest income per household of any commune in France métropolitaine - €5,007. Should the better-paid riders to dip into their pockets?
The stage continues through the countryside, with no towns or villages of note for 17km after Plavilla; then it passes through Fendeille. (Fendeille is on the site of a Gallo-Roman settlement, and coins, tools, and pottery from that period have been found. There has been a chateau here from the early 1200s. It was taken by Simon de Montfort in 1210. The chateau is now owned by the commune, and used as a primary school).
This map shows the next part of the route, from Fendeille:
In Fendeille, the route goes left on the D218 to Villeneuve-la-Comptal (where Clément Ader made his first glider flight), then right on the D624, across the autoroute, the railway, and the Canal du Midi into Castelnaudary.
There's a left-right dogleg in the centre of Castelnaudary, then the race leaves town on the D624 route de Revel. It goes past the Terreal tile factory, and crosses the river Fresquel, before getting to the village of Peyrens.
This map shows the route from Peyrens to the finish:
The road climbs a little from Peyrens (170m altitude) to 300m near la Pomarède. It descends again, and enters the département of the Haute Garonne, crossing la Rigole de la Plaine (a small canal with a cycle path along its bank), and passing through the village of Les Thoumases.
A right turn on the D622 sends the riders towards Revel for the first time. When they get to the boulevard around the centre of Revel, they're sent right on the D629 avenue de Saint-Ferréol, for a finishing circuit involving the climb of the Côte de Saint-Ferréol.
Leaving Revel and crossing la Rigole de la Plaine, the climb then begins at an altitude of 220m; Saint-Ferréol is at 359m. This means the height gained is 119m, over a distance of 1.8km, giving an average gradient of 6.6%.
After the climb to Saint-Ferréol, the route is along the shore of the Bassin de Saint-Ferréol (built by Pierre-Paul Riquet as a reservoir to feed the Canal du Midi), then left on the D151, down to Pont-Crouzet. Here, it's left again on the D85, on a straight, flat run to the finish at Revel.
This map shows the finishing circuit:
Map of finishing circuit, Revel & Saint-Ferréol, on Stage 10, Tour de France 2016, © OpenCycleMap contributors
Stage 10 arrives in Revel on the D85 (avenue de Sorèze) from Pont-Crouzet. It finishes close to the town centre.
What will happen on Stage 10? Maybe nothing much until near the end. The Côte de Saint-Ferréol could be a good chance for the puncheurs to get rid of the sprinters - but maybe not all of them. If he can stay close to the front of the pack on the climb to Saint-Ferréol, this could be one for André Greipel. Whoever wins, my money is on Peter Sagan to come second.
Speaking to the BBC in advance of the race, Geraint Thomas gave his opinion on each stage. This is what he said about Stage 10: 'After a rest day, the next day can be pretty bad and we are starting with a big uphill slog. There will certainly be a strong breakaway group and then it's a case of whether the sprinters' teams want to chase them down because the climb near the end may put them off.'
Who does he think will win? 'Michael Matthews. His Orica GreenEdge team may decide to ride for him, but they have several options, with the likes of Daryl Impey and Simon Gerrans in the squad.' And Adam Yates, Geraint, and Adam Yates!
Stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France is from Carcassonne to Montpellier. It goes through extensive vineyards, and visits historic villages like Minerve, Saint-Chinian, and Murviel-lès-Béziers. It's a flat stage, and relatively short, at 162.5km. It should end in a bunch sprint in Montpellier. Read about Stage 11, Tour de France 2016.
Escaldes Engordany is a built-up area which runs into Andorra la Vella, the capital of the Principality of Andorra.
Escaldes refers to hot, sulphurous springs here, which were used by the Romans for medical purposes. It is still known for its thermal waters, and there's a spa centre called Caldea.
A short distance north east of Escaldes Engordany is the Engolasters lake.
Canillo is the name of a parish in Andorra, and the largest village in the parish. Canillo is a ski resort which is linked by gondola to the Grandvalira ski area.
According to the legend of el Buner d'Ordino, a bagpipe player was on his way from Ordino to a festival in Canillo, when he was chased by wolves, and had to climb a tree to escape them. He frightened the wolves away by playing his bagpipes.
Soldeu is a village and ski resort in the parish of Canillo. It's also part of the Grandvalira ski area. The village is at 1,710m, and the top of the ski area is 2,580m. Soldeu has hosted World Cup ski racing.
Pas de la Casa is a ski resort at 2,100m, on the Ariège river, and just on the Andorran side of the border with France.
It is part of the Grandvalira ski area. Pas de la Casa's skiing goes up to an altitude of 2,640m, which makes it the highest skiing in Andorra, with the best snow record. It is also known as a party resort, which has good nightlife.
The name Pas de la Casa translates literally as '[mountain] pass of the house'. This is because, until the early 1900s, there was a single shepherd's hut over looking the col.
L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre is a village in the French Pyrenees, close to the border with Andorra, at an altitude of 1,440m.
The name of the village means the hospital, or mountain refuge, close to Andorra. It provided shelter to travellers in these sometimes inhospitable mountains.
According to legend, it was the Knight Bertrand d'Enveight who founded the Hospitalet. He was caught in a snowstorm around here with his horse, and he vowed to found a refuge if he survived. He killed his horse, pulled out its guts, and crawled inside, to keep warm until the storm passed. This was not a very nice thing to do.
Anyway, he did survive, and he kept his promise, building an oratory dedicated to Sainte Suzanne, and a refuge. The refuge was run by the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem.
The railway came to l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre, and a railway tunnel was built from 1908, taking the line south to the other side of the mountains. There's a railway station at l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre.
The Puymorens road tunnel starts here, running parallel to the railway tunnel, and it means that traffic doesn't have to go over the Col de Puymorens to get to Porté-Puymorens.
A number of avalanches have caused damage and loss of life over the years, for example in 1895.
Ax-les-Thermes is a town and commune at the confluence of the Oriège and Lauze with the Ariège, in the Ariège département. It's a spa town, a centre for walking and mountain activities in the summer, and a ski resort. The permanent population is 1,281.
There are 60 hot springs, varying in temperature from 18 to 78C, and three different establishments offering spa treatments - le Couloubret, le Modèle, and le Teich. (Le Couloubret has baths for relaxation and well-being, and the other two offer spa treatments). The waters are said to be good for sciatica, rheumatism, and some respiratory ailments. Warm water emerges in the Bassin des Ladres, in the town centre.
Ax, la ville so relax:
Skiing takes place at the resort of Ax 3 Domaines, which has 80km of pistes. The three domains are Saquet, les Compels, and Bonascre. A cable car takes skiers and snowboarders from Ax-les-Thermes (720m) to the ski resort proper, Plateau de Bonascre (1400m). The highest skiing in Ax 3 Domaines is at 2400m.
Tarascon-sur-Ariège is a industrial town at the confluence of the Cicdesso, the Courbière, and the Saurat with the Ariège river. There is gypsum mining here.
It has been an important trading centre since the Middle Ages, when it was one of the four main towns of the comté de Foix. It has a chateau, which was dismantled on the orders of King Louis XIII in 1632. In 1775, la Tour du Castella was built on the site of the old chateau, using stone from a gate in the town walls which had been demolished.
Mirepoix is a town of 3,136 people on the Countirou stream, close to its confluence with the Grand Hers. The inhabitants of Mirepoix are known as Mirapiciens.
The name Mirepoix could come from the Occitan mira peis, meaning 'looks at fishes', a reference to the establishment of the town at a ford of the river where the water was clear enough to see the fish. Or, it could come from the Latin mirum podium meaning 'looks at mountains', a reference to the Massif de Tabe, beyond Lavelanet to the south, which can be seen from Mirepoix.
In the Middle Ages, Mirepoix was part of the comté de Foix. Most of the population adopted the Cathar strain of Christianity, and that's why the town was beseiged and taken by Simon de Montfort in 1209.
After being flooded and destroyed by the Hers river in 1289, the town was rebuilt on the other (left) bank of the river, at a higher elevation. As a result, it was carefully planned, and has streets on a grid pattern, which resemble those of a ville bastide.
Mirepoix has a Cathedral dedicated to Saint-Maurice. Another historic building is the Maison des Consuls. A house was first built on the site of the Maison des Consuls at the end of the 1200s. It was rebuilt around 1500, and then used by the Consuls who governed Mirepoix. Finally, it was rebuilt again after a fire in 1664. It's now a hotel.
The bridge in Mirepoix dates from 1776. The Chateau de Terride in Mirepoix was first mentioned in documents in the year 960.
There's a walking, bike, and horse riding track from Mirepoix to Lavelanet, on the route of an old railway.
Castelnaudary is a town of 11,476 people. It is known as the birthplace of Catharism, for the dish cassoulet (made with haricot beans, sausage, pork, mutton, and preserved goose), and for its Grand Bassin port on the Canal du Midi.
The name Castelnaudary means 'new castle of stone'.
Castelnaudary was on a Roman road from Narbo to Tolosa, and the Romans called it Sostomagus.
The first mention of a castle was in 1103. It was Simon IV de Montfort's seat during the Albigensian Crusades. During the One Hundred Years War, the Black Prince took the castle and pillaged the town, in 1355. Castelnaudary was the scene of a battle between King Louis XIII and Gaston d'Orléans in 1632.
Castelnaudary was the centre of operations for Pierre-Paul Riquet, who was behind the building of the Canal du Midi, which may be why it has the Grand Bassin, the biggest port area on the canal. Other sights in the town are the C13th collegiate church of Saint-Michel (rebuilt and altered over the centuries), and the Moulin de Cugarel (on the outskirts of town).
Much of Castelnaudary's economy today is based on agriculture (particularly beans and cereals) and food processing.
Revel is a town and commune in the Haute Garonne. The population is 9,364.
It's a ville bastide founded in 1342 by King Philippe VI de Valois. It was one of the last bastides to be founded. The King gave the town the priviledge of being governed by Consuls.
Town walls were built in 1355, but these have been taken down, and in their place are the boulevards around the centre.
In the Middle Ages, Revel was an important centre of trade in blue dye from woad.
The farmers' market at Revel every Saturday morning was established 600 years ago.
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