July 19, 2003
John Wilcockson weighs in that in his opinion, tomorrow's stage is one of the Tour's hardest, wtih a first category climb up Port de Pailheres that he thinks is both longer and steeper than Alpe d'Huez.
It climbs for 25 kilometers, with the final 15 kilometers on an extremely narrow, switchback road that tops out at 2001 meters (6565 feet) elevation. The climb has an average 7.8-percent grade, with three long stretches at 10 percent or more. After crossing the peak, there follows a harrowing 20-kilometer-long descent on narrow and tortuous roads, before an immediate 9-kilometer climb to the finish at Ax-3 Domaines on the Plateau de Bonascre.