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Stage 18, Tour de France 2018

Stage 18 of the Tour de France 2018 is 171km from Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau. It's a flat stage which comes in the middle of the Tour's stay in the Pyrenees, and so for the sprinters it represents an oasis in a desert. Read about Stage 18 of the Tour de France 2018 here.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: video highlights

Arnaud Démare won a sprint stage to Pau. See video highlights of Stage 18:

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: facts, figures, and map

Stage classification Flat
Distance 171km
Intermediate sprint Aurensan
Climbs Côte de Madiran (Category 4)
Côte d'Anos (Category 4)

This is the official map of Stage 18.

The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 18:

Profile of Stage 18, Tour de France 2018

Profile of Stage 18, Tour de France 2018, © ASO/Tour de France

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: date & timings

Thursday 26th July 2018.

The publicity caravan sets off from Trie-sur-Baïse at 1155, and the peloton at 1355. The projected average speeds are 39, 41, and 43kmh, and depending on which is the most accurate, the riders will arrive at the finish line in Pau between 1738 and 1758.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: Mark Cavendish's prediction

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish riding for Dimension Data, by Iggy, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Mark Cavendish looks forward to the Tour de France for the BBC, and names his 'one to watch' - his prediction for the stage win.

'This provides another sprint opportunity into Pau, unless the big breakaway goes. When we normally do stages around this region, it can take a long, long time for the break to go, especially as this is the last opportunity without big mountains where you see the rouleurs trying to go for it.

But I think the sprint teams will know as well it's the only opportunity before Paris, and will want to control the break and bring it back. It is up and down into the finale, which really saps your energy. The run-in to Pau is slightly uphill, and it's quite technical into the town. There's a roundabout and a left-hand turn in the last kilometre, but a nice big sprint to finish outside the park.'

His one to watch? Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: the route

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: the start at Trie-sur-Baïse

Eglise des Carmes, Trie-sur-Baise

Eglise des Carmes, Trie-sur-Baïse, by Florent Pécassou, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The stage starts at Trie-sur-Baïse, a small but historic ville bastide in the Hautes-Pyrénées département of France, which is home to about 1,000 people. Today's stage is in between the Pyrenees to the south and les Landes to the north.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: the middle part of the route

Tarbes Town Hall

Tarbes Town Hall, by Florent Pécassou, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Stage 18 heads west north west out of town on the D17, and the départ réel comes after a few kilometres on that road.

The riders soon leave the Hautes-Pyrénées département, and enter the Gers. The first town of any significance is Miélan, which stands close to the Lac de Miélan.

Lac de Miélan

Lac de Miélan, by Florent Pécassou, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The peloton continues to Tillac, past the golf course du Château de Pallane, and to Marciac, an historic ville bastide now known for its Jazz in Marciac festival.

The race crosses back into the Hautes-Pyrénées before reaching Maubourguet, a town on the river Adour. A few kilometres later is the first of two Category 4 climbs on this stage - the Côte de Madiran. It is 1.2km at 7%, reaching a height of 260m at the top.

Madiran

Madiran wine, by Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

There's a descent to the village of Madiran, which gives its name to the red wine produced locally with Tannat grapes. Madiran wines are high in tannin, and are best when aged for several years. They are said to be good for reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure, so what are you waiting for?! Get drinking, as much as possible, and get healthy.

The race crosses back into the Gers, then reaches Aurensan - location of the day's intermediate sprint.

Back over the border into the Landes, the riders go through Aire-sur-l'Adour, which they also visited on Stage 11 of the 2017 Tour.

Aire-sur-l'Adour

Aire-sur-l'Adour, by Frédérique Panassac, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Beyond Aire-sur-l'Adour, the route is via Duhort-Bachen to Eugénie-les-Bains. (This spa resort takes its name from the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoléon III, who visited and appreciated the thermal baths in the 1860s).

Eugénie-les-Bains

Eugénie-les-Bains, by Cylk34, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

The route crosses into the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and goes through Arzacq-Arraziguet. After a further 20km or so of rolling countryside, comes the second categorised climb of the stage: The Côte d'Anos, Category 4, 2.1km at 4.6%, reaching 301m.

A short distance later, at Morlaàs, is the high point of the day, 336m. Then it's downhill to the finish at Pau.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: the finish in Pau

Caserne Bernadotte, Pau

Caserne Bernadotte, place Verdun, Pau, by Flo641, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

The stage finishes at place de Verdun in Pau. Stage 11 of the 2017 Tour de France also finished with a sprint to place de Verdun in Pau. 

Place de Verdun is an area of marshy ground which became the Haute Plante gardens of the Château de Pau in the C16th, then a military parade ground after the caserne Bernadotte military barracks were completed in 1875, and finally, today, inevitably, a car park.

It's not a straightforward run-in to the finish line. The peloton arrives in Pau on avenue Alfred Nobel, then there are a couple of roundabouts onto boulevard Tourasse, another roundabout onto boulevard Recteur Jean Sarrailh, and a sharp left onto avenue Jean Mermoz; another roundabout brings the charging pack of riders onto boulevard Champetier de Ribes; finally, they veer left onto rue Michelet/rue du Maquis de Béarn, and the finish line by place de Verdun.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: favourites for the stage win

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel in green during the 2017 Tour de France, by filip bossuyt, Licence CC BY 2.0

The favourites for the stage win have become clearer as we have seen the form of the sprinters in the early stages of the 2018 Tour, and who has survived the mountains. Marcel Kittel was the winner in Pau in 2017, one of a succession of sprint victories which became a bit boring for anyone not related to the big German. (That's not his fault of course). I did think a finish in Pau might suit him again, but he didn't make it through the Alps. So let's say it will be Alexander Kristoff instead.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: comments

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Stage 19, Tour de France 2018

Col & Géant du Tourmalet

Le Géant du Tourmalet, by Soumei Baba, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2018 is 200.5km from Lourdes to Laruns. 

Read about Stage 19 of the 2018 Tour de France.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: towns, sights and attractions

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: Trie-sur-Baïse

Church at Trie-sur-Baïse

L'Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, Trie-sur-Baïse, by PierreG_09, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Trie-sur-Baïse is a settlement of 1,062 people. It takes its name from Jean de Trie, seneschal of Toulouse. He represented the King in signing the paréage which set up this ville bastide in 1323. A ville bastide is a Medieval new town, with a large central square by the church and castle, surrounded by arcades. The streets are a on a grid pattern, and the whole town would originally have been encircled by defensive walls.

Trie-sur-Baïse was besieged and pillaged by the Black Prince in 1355, during the One Hundred Years War, then rebuilt from 1363. 

The Carmelites founded a monastery here in 1365. The monastery was burnt by the Protestants in 1569, during the Wars of Religion, and only the monastery church survived; the rest of the monastery was rebuilt, but dismantled during the French Revolution, again leaving only the church.

The main church in the village is the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Neiges (pictured above), which was begun in 1444. According to legend, the location was decided when snow fell and settled everywhere except this spot, where a cross-shaped patch remained bare.

Trie is at a crossroads, with five routes heading off in different directions, including to Lannemezan and Tarbes.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: Aire-sur-l'Adour

Aire-sur-l'Adour

Aire-sur-l'Adour, by Frédérique Panassac, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Aire-sur-l'Adour is a town on the river Adour in the Landes département. 

Historically, it was the residence of the kings of the Visgoths, from 466 to 507AD. It was later a stop on the route of a pilgrimmage to Sant-Iago-de-Compostella, and had two hospitals for pilgrims. In 1814, Wellington beat Napoleon's Marshal Soult in a battle here.

This is a wine-producing area, making wines labelled Tursan.

Stage 18, Tour de France 2018: Pau

Chateau de Pau

Chateau de Pau, by Turol Jones, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Pau is a city of 78,506 people (the inhabitants are called Palois) on the river Gave de Pau. It's the historic capital of the province of Béarn.

There are views of the Pyrenees from the boulevard des Pyrenées. Alphonse de Lamartine said, 'Pau has the most beautiful view of the earth just as Naples has the most beautiful view of the sea.'

Boulevard des Pyrenées, Pau

Boulevard des Pyrenées, Pau, by ludovic, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The origin of the name Pau is uncertain. It could come from pal, referring to the palisade or fence around the first castle in Pau. Another possibility is that pal means rockface, and refers to Pau's position at the foot of mountains.

A castle was built by the Viscounts of Béarn, probably in the C11th, to protect a ford of the Gave de Pau. Pau became the capital of Béarn in 1464. It then became the seat of the Kings of Navarre in 1512. Henri of Navarre went on to become King Henri IV of France, in 1589. In 1620, Béarn lost its independence from France, although the Parliament of Navarre continued to govern local matters (with laws in the Occitan dialect).

In the Belle Epoque (usually defined as 1871 to 1914), Pau developed as a tourist destination for the royal, aristocratic, and rich. Scottish doctor Alexander Taylor helped make it a popular destination for a winter cure. Later, aviation and petrochemicals (following the discovery of natural gas in Lacq) were significant industries here, and more recently, the services sector has grown. There's a large student population at the Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour.

The Chateau de Pau is one of the city's main attractions. It was originally a fortification guarding a ford of the Gave de Pau, reinforced in the C14th by Gaston III of Foix-Béarn. In the C16th, as the seat of the Navarre dynasty, it was transformed into a residence. 

Henri of Navarre was born in the chateau. Wikipedia has a garbled explanation of Henri's connection to the castle, which has the hallmarks of a computer translation from French: 'The future Henri IV takes the trouble to be born December 13, 1553, and the story did the rest. The fame of the king...gives the castle, which did not see him grow up or die, a particular taste, and the right to claim honours those who give birth supermen.' Right. I, who not uderstand all things to men, a special smell, this translation glorious three and a half ten out of.

Palais Beaumont, Pau

Palais Beaumont, Pau, by Turol Jones, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Trie-sur-BaiseTarbesPau

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