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Plateau de Beille in the Tour de France 2024

Next July 2024 the Tour de France will see the return of one of the most important Pyrenean destinations in recent decades, which is Plateau de Beille. This ski resort, located in the department of Ariège, had not received the cycling caravan since 2015, when ‘Purito’ Rodríguez conquered the summit through a breakaway in which was his penultimate victory as a professional cyclist. This stage must take place in the second week of the race, where the Pyrenees will be present, being climbed once again before the Alps, where if nothing vary the decisive days of the next edition of the Tour de France will be found.

It is a pretty hard climb, with 16 kilometers of ascent at an average percentage close to 8%. If we leave aside the last four kilometers, where the ascent eases a bit, we find a constant climb of 9-10%, which represents a fairly significant effort for the cyclists. The stages that have ended here have included more cols along the way, almost never as significant as the final climb. The most difficult climb that can precede this tough top finish is the also demanding Port de Pailhères, which has different characteristics, but quite similar numbers. More details, such as the starting point of the stage, are not yet known.

What is clear is that Plateau de Beille will be the grand mountain top finish of those first two weeks of the race in which no other grand finale is expected, although surprises could take place at the presentation of the route, which will be as usual in the month of October. An excess of top finishes is not expected, at least in high mountains. La Couillole, in the twentieth stage, looks set to be the other great peak to receive the finish line of a stage. If in 2023 the route included four top finishes, 2024 will maintain a similar number, with the possibility of reducing it to three.

It will depend on whether the finale in Isola 2000 is finally included in the Alps or if that stage that with Col de la Bonette will end in the valley located at the bottom of the climb to the mentioned ski resort that has only seen one stage finish in the Tour de France (1993, with victory for Tony Rominger). If this finish is not included, it is likely that there would be another summit finish in the Pyrenees, where it is expected that at least two stages will be held at the end of that second week. The Massif Central also has the possibility of hosting a hard stage, but in no case a theoretically key stage.

What is clear is that Plateau de Beille returns after nine years of silence. It premiered in 1998, after having been included in other races such as the Route du Sud, with victory for Marco Pantani, who in the end was able to achieve the yellow jersey in Paris. That same circumstance of winning at the top and doing the same in Paris was repeated by Lance Armstrong on two occasions (2002 and 2004) and Alberto Contador (2007). The statistics said that whoever won at the top, won the Tour in Paris.

Fact that stopped happening on the last two occasions in which the Tour caravan has visited the station. The victories belonged to the Belgian Jelle Vanendert (2011) and the Spanish ‘Purito’ Rodríguez (2015), last winner in this summit that is waiting for a new name to appear in its prestigious record. Aiming for it we will have the best riders in the bunch, such as Pogacar, Vingegaard, Evenepoel and company, who will suffer this beautiful and hard ascent during the next month of July.

Escrito por Lucrecio Sánchez / Traducción: Jorge Matesanz


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