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Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 19

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic, by filip bossuyt, Licence CC BY 2.0

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 19: ITV4

Primoz Roglic won the stage. He was at the front of the leading group on the descent to the finish. He got a little gap, then he seemed to be pulled along in the slipstream of TV motorbike 831. While he was freewheeling in a tuck position on his crossbar, Tom Dumoulin was pedalling like fury behind, and failing to catch up.

Roglic got a benefit from the moto from 7.7km to go until 1.6km to go, and finished with a 19s advantage over the others. It was absolutely not his fault. It was absolutely the fault of the TV moto. It's completely wrong for a TV moto to play a critical role in deciding the stage result and quite possibly the Tour de France podium.

Gary Imlach said, 'From the pictures we have, it's hard to identify anything excessive.' That is utter rubbish. Imlach is a nice chap, and he would rather smooth things over. When I'm watching the race being skewed by external factors, it drives me up the wall.

On the podcast, they were all saying the motorbike didn't play a role, even David Millar. That lot know a hundred times more about cycling than I do (but maybe not more about what was going on in this race than Tom Dumoulin and Dan Martin). On this occasion, perhaps Millar & co. are saying what they think is politic. Perhaps they think 'if we don't have TV motos, we don't have TV pictures, and in that case, we don't have a TV programme.' Or they are just wrong.

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 19: the Cycling Podcast

The CP team began this episode by going on about all the foie gras they ate last night, and very nearly lost me then.

There was mention of Robert Gesink, and his tour de force on the front of the GC group to reduce the gap to the breakaway.

Discussing Froome, Richard Moore made a perceptive comment. This is his quote, as accurately as I can remember it: 'A champion who loses with dignity always enhances his reputation. If he rejects food that is produced in an inherently cruel way, he will be admired even more.'

Super-happies: 6

Iconics: 3

Correct predictions of stage winners on this website: 2 out of 19. (It's not getting any better, but I'm counting on TD tomorrow to boost my total by 50%).

Tour de France 2018 diary Stage 19: comments

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Stage 20, Tour de France 2018

Tom Dumoulin riding a TT

Tom Dumoulin riding an ITT in 2016, by filip bossuyt, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 20 of the Tour de France 2018 is a 31-km individual time trial over a rolling route between Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle and Espelette. 

Read about Stage 20 of the 2018 Tour de France.

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: towns, sights and attractions

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Lourdes

Lourdes Basilica of the Immaculate Conception & Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire

Lourdes, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception & Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire, by Christine & Hagen Graf, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Lourdes is a market town of around 15,000 people, but which receives 6 million visitors every year.

This site was probably inhabited in prehistoric times. There was a Gallo-Roman settlement, and some traces of Roman walls, statues, and votive offerings have been found during works to the fort. During the One Hundred Years War, the English occupied Lourdes, from 1360 to 1407.

Grotto at Lourdes

Massabielle grotto, by Christine & Hagen Graf, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The attraction of Lourdes comes from the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to a 14-year-old girl called Bernadette Soubiros in 1858 (Mary appeared to her eighteen times in total). Soubiros saw a beautiful lady at the Massabielle grotto, and the lady said that she was the Immaculate Conception. Soubiros reported this to her priest, Father Peyremale. The lady also told Soubiros to drink from a source. This spring still produces water, and pilgrims are able to bathe in it; it is said to have occasioned miracle cures.

Lourdes fort

Lourdes fort, by Stephen Colebourne, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

There's a fort in Lourdes, originally built in Roman times; the oldest surviving parts are from the C11th and C12th. The fort houses a Pyrenean museum. The town is overlooked by three peaks: le Béout, Petit Jer, and Grand Jer. A funicular railway called the Pic du Jer goes up to the Grand Jer.


Lourdes, by lackystrike, Flickr, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Bagnères-de-Bigorre

Bagneres-de-Bigorre, Thermes

Thermes, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, by Stephen Colebourne, Licence CC BY 2.0

Bagnères-de-Bigorre is a town of about 8,000 people on the river Adour and in the Hautes-Pyrénées département.

It was called Vicus Aquensis in Roman times, referring to a town with waters. The present name means 'baths' (Bagnères), and 'Bigorre' refers to an ancient tribe that lived in the area, the Bigorri.

The Romans were displaced by Visigoths, who were succeeded by Franks. In the 1100s, the town belonged to the Counts of Bigorre. In 1589, Henri de Navarre, Count of Bigorre, became King of France, uniting the lands here with the French Crown.

Hydrotherapy gained in popularity in the late 1700s, and the spas in Bagnères specialised in treatment of digestive complaints. In 1828, a new Grand Thermal Spa was completed, and rheumatism was one of the ailments it was said to treat. There was a Casino too.

One of the other mainstays of the local economy was marble and slate quarrying, industries which employed 1,000 people in the late 1800s. Later, the textile industry superseded quarrying, before that too declined.

Bagnères-de-Bigorre is twinned with Malvern. British comedian Tony Hawks lives in a village near Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Capvern

Capvern, spa buildings

Spa buildings, Capvern, by Senaux, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Capvern is a spa resort on the Lène stream and the plateau de Lannemezan. The spa facilities are centred on Capvern-les-Bains. Capvern means 'the green point or peak'. The waters of the spa are reputed to cure urinary, digestive, and rheumatic and complaints, and gout. The first people to take the waters were probably Roman soldiers, but the popularity of spa treatments was at its peak in the C19th. From 1875, people were enticed with the slogan, 'Si ta vessie est menacée, Capvern sera la panacée', meaning 'If your bladder is menaced, Capvern is the panacea'. That was always bound to bring the punters in - who could resist?

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Sarrancolin


Sarrancolin, by France64160, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Sarrancolin developed around a Benedictine Priory in the C11th, and became capital of the Quatre Vallées - Aure, Neste, Barousse, and Magnoac.

The village and the Vallée d'Aure are known for marble, which has been quarried since Roman times. The marble has been used in the Petit Trianon at Versailles, the Opéra Charles Garnier in Paris, and in the entrance of the Empire State Building in New York. More recently, there has been paper and glass manufacture, and an Alcan aluminium factory at Beyrède.

Today, tourism is an important part of the economy for this area, with skiing in the winter - for example in the small resort of Nistos, east of Sarrancolin - and walking, mountain biking, fishing, and spa treatments in the summer).

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Arreau

Arreau, Vallée d'Aure

Arreau, by Stephen Colebourne, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Arreau is a village of 819 people,at the junction of the Aure and Louron valleys, and thus the confluence of the Neste d'Aure and the Neste du Louron. It's the historic capital of the Vallée d'Aure. 

The building in the photograph is the Chateau de Ségure, with a C16th square tower, probably on the site of a C12th fortification.

Because Arreau is between the Col d'Aspin and the Col de Peyresourde, the Tour de France visits quite often.

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Eugène Christophe & the statue at Sainte-Marie-de-Campan

Eugene Christophe

Perhaps the most famous descent of the Col du Tourmalet was by Eugène Christophe. In 1913, he was leading the Tour de France by 18 minutes when his bike's forks broke about 10km from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan. He walked down the rest of the way, and found a blacksmith's shop, where - because riders had to do all their own repairs - he mended the forks himself, according to the blacksmith's instructions. Christophe lost a lot of time, and was penalised more, because the blacksmith's boy had pumped the bellows for him. As a result of the incident, Christophe lost his chance of winning the Tour. He finished seventh.

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Luz-Saint-Sauveur


Luz-Saint-Sauveur, by akunamatata, Flickr, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Luz means 'light' in Spanish. Luz-Saint-Sauveur is at the junction of three valleys, so that the rays of the sun can reach it from three different directions at different times of the day. Its position also means that it suffers from floods when the mountain streams meeting here overflow. The last time there were significant floods was June 2013. There are also earthquakes from time to time. 

Luz-Saint-Sauveur has thermal baths, which have been in use since the C16th. (The person waiting for them to be free is getting pretty fed up now).

Above Luz-Saint-Sauveur, on the slopes to the west, is the ski resort of Luz-Ardiden.

Stage 19, Tour de France 2018: Argelès-Gazost


Argelès-Gazost, by Basotxerri, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Argelès-Gazost is a settlement of about 3,000 people in the Hautes-Pyrénées département of France, in a locality known as the Lavedan. It is at the confluence of the gave d'Azun with the gave de Pau. The name Argelès may signify 'clay' or 'clay soils'. I don't know what the name 'Gazost' means, otherwise I'd tell you.

Argeles had a mini-Golden Age after the construction of a railway here in 1870. It was popular as a spa resort, with its waters thought to assist with vein and pulmonary complaints.

Other than the baths and a casino, the Parc Animalier des Pyrénées is one of the main draws here.

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