Lying so close to the high Pyrenees, Pau is an obvious choice for a stage town as the race heads into or out of the mountains, and this will be the 64th time it has hosted the Tour de France, the most recent winner here being Pierrick Fédrigo in 2010, the day after Alberto Contador had taken the race lead after Andy Schleck dropped his chain.
Typically, a stage finish here would come at the end of a day featuring some of the Pyrenees’ most fabled ascents, but today looks more like being a bunch sprint, with the Category 3 Côte de Simacourbe sandwiched by two Category 4 climbs ahead of a 30km run to the line. It’s less than two weeks until the Olympic road race, and while legs may be tired from the exertions in the Tour to date, anyone with their sights on gold who struggles on one of these three climbs has some work to do if they are going to challenge in London.
Geraint Thomas says: There’s not many potential bunch sprints left, so it definitely looks like being one today. If any sprinters are going to leave the race early to prepare for the Olympics, I’d have thought it would be after this stage (anyone particular you had in mind there, Geraint? - ed), it should be worth their while hanging around for just the one more sprint, and then there’s a couple of mountain days afterwards.
If you want to know more about the stages in this year's race check out our full 2012 Tour de France preview featuring analysis of each stage and tips from Team Sky's Geraint Thomas
Fantasy Cycling Tour de France transfer window for Stage 15 closes at 12.40 UK time tomorrow.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.