There is no tourmalite pass or climbing loz arden. This year, the organizers of the Tour de France decided to innovate in the Pyrenees. Racers will climb the Grande Boucle Col de Spandelles for the first time on Thursday, July 21, between the intimidating Col de Obesque and the steep access to Hautacam. For many runners, this is a discovery.
Between 32 and 36 minutes. These are the times taken by Pierre Roland (the fastest) and his teammate Frank Bonamore, during the Cole de Spandel poll, in May. B&B Hotels-KTM riders are among the few who have trained on this 10.3-kilometer climb, with an average of 8.3%. “They were redrawing the road when we got to know it, and there was a lot of gravel. I think with a new road it would be better”Frank Bonamore hopes.
A former municipal road, the road connecting the village of Ferrières to the summit of the Col de Spandelles has recently been rehabilitated as an administrative road, allowing it to host the Tour de France. The trail was used very little during bike races. Nairo Quintana, who actually climbed it during one of his first professional victories on the Southern Road, in 2012, won’t necessarily be so lucky: He doesn’t remember it. Fourth in the general classification, the Colombian and his team did not recognize the pass ahead of the Tour de France.
For Arkéa-Samsic teammate Maxime Bouet, this lack of recognition wouldn’t necessarily be an issue. “Today, we have a lot of hardware and software that makes it possible to see the difficulty of the passes. At Arkéa, as in many teams, we use the VeloViewer, which clearly shows the difficulty, slope and width of the road, He explains. Then, on our meters, we get into the road profile and, during the race, we can know what awaits us in the next 500m or in the next kilometre.
France’s Cofidis rider, Anthony Perez, is more apprehensive about getting off. “When you don’t know, it’s much more difficult than climbing. Uphill, you can climb without asking yourself any questions, but when going downhill, when you are driving at 80 km/h, you can quickly go into the valley. We talk about that in the briefing, with a presentation GPS from above, to see any reflections, slope and paint”.
Finally, the rider who knows and talks best about Col de Spandelles is not on the Tour de France. Matthew Ladnos (Groupama-FDJ) goes there regularly. “It’s not far from home, so it’s part of my training methods. It’s a pass that’s not very long, but it’s very steep, and a bit irregular, with very steep and steep passes.” Other flat tracks, but that doesn’t last long. It’s a wild and narrow road, the surface is quite grainy, not a pool table”.
In recent months, the runner has found himself less lonely than usual, with several teams sending their leaders in reconnaissance. “The last ones seen there are Rafal Majka and Tadig Pojakar.”he explains.
Will the Slovenian take advantage of this unprecedented climb during the last mountain stage to catch up with Jonas Weinggaard? “The collar will hurt everyone and we can surely waste a lot of time on it‘ Matthew Ladagnus warns.