Major damage to descent off Col d'Aubisque will cause headaches for organisers
The route of the final mountain stage of the 2018 Tour de France may have to be modified after the road down a crucial mountain pass was destroyed in a landslide.
Heavy rain and flash floods hit the western Pyrénées last week, causing damage to infrastructure across the region, with some of the most serious damage coming to the road down the Col d’Aubisque.
As reported by regional newspaper La République des Pyrénées, there has been seriously damage in the area around the ski resort of Gourette, with the road on the descent of the Col d’Aubisque being partly destroyed in a landslide.
The Col d’Aubisque is due to be the final classified climb of the Tour de France, taking its place with just a handful of kilometres remaining on stage 19 between Lourdes and Laruns which will take place on July 27.
Gilbert Payet, state prefect to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, confirmed that authorities had not yet requested a diversion to the route of the Tour’s stage through the area, preferring to work to find a technical solution to repair the road in the next 39 days, but were working with race organiser A.S.O. to create an alternative route should repairs not be possible.
However given the relative dearth of roads in the area, it would be difficult for organisers to finish the stage in Laruns without adding significant distance to a stage that is already more than 200km in length.
With the Tour’s visit to the south-west of France still more than a month away, race organisers ASO have a bit of time to decide whether a diversion will be necessary, as was the case in 2015 when landslides forced amendments to the route in Dieppe and the removal of the Col du Galibier.