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Stage Guide The Bike Sean Yates' guide to a rider's day le tour de france
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Stage 12

The second mountain stage sees sore legs coming out for another assault on the steep Pyrenean slopes.

With two first category and two second category climbs, this stage is hard enough.

But the finish is one of the steepest and hardest you will find anywhere, an hors categorie (without category) climb.

  • 55km: Col de Mente first category climb
  • 70.5km: Col de Portet d'Aspet second category
  • 106.5km: Col de la Core first category
  • 154km: Col de Port second category
  • Finish: Plateau-de-Beille "without category"

BBC Radio Five Live's man on the Tour Simon Brotherton believes Lance Armstrong will triumph over the tough terrain of stage 12. He said: "People say he looked troubled in the time trial but this will be the perfect opportunity for him to stamp his authority on the race. The course should really suit him."

Previously: Marco Pantani triumphed here on the only previous visit, the Tour he won in 1998.

Don't miss: This ski station's name translates as "plateau of bees". It is more famed for cross-country skiing than the downhill variety and, in the winter, you can even go for a sledge ride behind husky dogs.

Food and drink: Pyrenean cuisine is shared with the rest of the Basque country, such as the piperade, a spicy egg dish made from tomatoes, chillis and ham.

Link: Plateau de Beille

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