The Etape du Tour will be held earlier than usual – on Sunday, July 6 – to enable the race to visit the Pyrenees again.

More than 8,000 riders will tackle the 154-kilometre stage from Pau to the summit at Hautacam, via the east side of the Col du Tourmalet.

Despite speculation the most famous cyclo-sportive in the world would be held in the Alps again – or the more outlandish suggestion it would be held the day before or after the Tour stage to enable the etapistas to watch the race – the organisers have opted to move the date.

Although a short stage, it will test the legs to the full, and places are set to be at a premium given the prestige of the 23-kilometre Tourmalet climb, which averages seven per cent.

RECENT EDITIONS

2007 Foix to Loudenvielle (Pyrenees) 199km

2006 Gap to Alpe d?Huez (Alps) 193km

2005 Mourenx to Pau (Pyrenees) 179km

2004 Limoges to Saint Flour (Massif Central) 238km

2003 Pau to Bayonne (Pyrenees) 201km

RELATED LINKS

Tour 008: The instant reaction

Tour 2008: Stage list and map