Stage 15: Samatan-Pau

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On the edge of the Pyrenees, in France’s south-west corner. While the town of Samatan welcomes the Tour for the first time, it’s the 65th time Pau has hosted the start or finish. Pau also hosts the race for its rest day the following day, before the Tour continues into the mountains the next day.

There’s nothing that’s going to put anyone in any difficulty along the route, and with the rest day the next day, the flat parcours will offer the big favourites an extra day to take it relatively easy.

A breakaway is guaranteed, and one that will go almost from the gun, with the participants aware that they can give their legs a good rest the following day. However, with just two more opportunities for a bunch gallop after this, the sprinters’ teams will probably close it down in the final kilometres. The spoilsports.

The dry, flat route nevertheless offers stunning views of the Pyrenees on the horizon. Whether the riders want to be reminded of the suffering in store for them is another matter.

(Those who are not foie gras fans, please look away now.) Foie gras. The reckless among us will go for a second consecutive cassoulet (our record is four in three days).

The final 10 kilometres, as our by now ragged breakaway will no doubt be down to the last plucky few, and the likes of Sky, Argos and Garmin will be in full flight

1930 Alfredo Binda
1931 Charles Pélissier
1932 Georges Ronsse
1933 Learco Guerra
1934 Réné Vietto
1935 Ambrogio Morelli
1936 Sylvère Maes
1937 Julien Berrendero
1938 Theo Middelkamp
1939 Karl Litschi
1947 Jean Robic
1949 Fiorenzo Magni
1950 Marcel Dussault
1952 Fausto Coppi
1953 Fiorenzo Magni
1954 Stan Ockers
1955 Jean Brankart
1956 Nino Defilippis
1957 Gastone Nencini
1958 Louis Bergaud
1960 Roger Rivière
1961 Eddy Pauwels
1962 Eddy Pauwels
1963 Pino Cérami
1964 Federico Bahamontes
1966 Tommaso De Pra
1967 Raymond Mastrotto
1968 Van Rijckeghem
1971 Herman Van Springel
1972 Yves Hézard
1973 Pedro Torrès
1974 Jean-PierreDanguillaume
1975 Felice Gimondi
1976 Wladimiro Panizza
1977 Didi Thurau
1978 Henk Lubberding
1979 Bernard Hinault
1980 Gerrie Knetemann
1981 Bernard Hinault
1982 Sean Kelly
1983 Philippe Chevallier
1984 Eric Vanderaerden
1985 Régis Simon
1986 Pedro Delgado
1987 Erik Breukink
1988 Adri Van der Poel
1989 Martin Earley
1990 Dmitri Konyshev
1992 Javier Murguialday
1993 Claudio Chiappucci
1995 Stage neutralised
1997 Erik Zabel
1998 Leon Van Bon
1999 David Etxebarria
2002 Patrick Halgand
2005 Oscar Pereiro
2006 Jean-Miguel Mercado
2010 Pierrick Fédrigo


Pierrick Fédrigo, France
“I come to the Tour to win stages, and until then I hadn’t won one. I thought my final chances had already gone. But it was my day – my family and supporters were there.

“At the foot of the Peyresourde, I was at the front, near Contador and Schleck, focussed on what I had to do, plus I wanted to cross the cols first to defend my team-mate Anthony Charteau’s lead in the King of the Mountains. I motivated myself by remembering how strong I felt when I escaped with Franco Pellizotti and won in Tarbes the year before, so when Armstrong attacked on the Tourmalet, I followed.

“Armstrong told me that I was the strongest sprinter in the group, so I had to ride – they wouldn’t take me to the finish. Once we got to the top of the Aubisque, I knew I could win. Armstrong was trying to get a success for his final Tour, so I knew it would stay together. I made sure to work for the escape, and tried to stay focused in the last 10 kilometres. To win the sprint was a huge relief – to win a stage, you have to believe in yourself 200 per cent.”

– Pau hosts its 58th stage finish in the Tour. The first was in 1930, when Alfredo Binda won. The most recent was in 2010, when Pierrick Fedrigo was the winner.
– Only Bordeaux (with 80 finishes) and Paris (with 99, including 2012) has been used more often as a stage finish.
– This is the fourth ‘transition’ stage between the Alps and Pyrenees proper. In 2011, there was only one, the bunch sprint into Montpellier won by Mark Cavendish. In 2010, there were also four, including two in the Massif Central. Of these, only one was won in a sprint.

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Maps courtesy of Amaury Sports Organisation