Stage 16 of the Tour de France 2022 is classified as hilly. The first half is on rolling terrain, but after Tarascon the parcours takes the riders into the Pyrenees, with climbs of the Port de Lers and the Mur de Péguère. The stage ends with a descent to Foix.
|Date||Tuesday 19th July 2022|
|Climbs||Port de Lers
Mur de Péguère
At the time of writing, the only detailed map available is one of those annoying video ones:
This is the profile of Stage 16, Tour de France 2022:
Stage 16 starts in Carcassonne.
Carcassonne is a town of 46,724 people in the département of the Aude, on the river Aude and the Canal du Midi. It's dominated by the Medieval château surrounded by ramparts, la Cité de Carcassonne.
According to legend, it got its name from Carcas, the wife of a Saracen king. The Saracens in the city were besieged by Charlemagne. The king of the Saracens was captured and put to death. His wife, Carcas, continued to hold out. Her soldiers were dying of starvation, so she put scarecrows on the ramparts, and changed their hats every 2 hours, to make it look as though the sentries were changing over. Then she killed the last remaining pig, stuffed its belly with the last of the corn, and threw it over the walls. When it landed, the belly burst open to reveal the corn. Charlemagne's soldiers were amazed. They thought that even after the long siege, the Saracens were feeding their pigs with corn. Defeated, they packed up and began to leave. Carcas had the victory trumpets sounded, and Charlmagne's soldiers said 'Ecoutez, Carcas sonne' (listen, Carcas is sounding [the trumpets]). So the town got its name. Probably.
Carcassonne started as a Roman camp in the C1st AD. The Visigoths captured it as the Roman Empire crumbled, and it became part of the Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse. In 725, the Saracens took it from the Visigoths, and in 759, the Saracens were defeated by the Franks, under Pepin the Short.
Carcassonne belonged to the Counts of Toulouse, within the Frankish Empire, from the 800s to the 1200s. Peace and prosperity was disrupted from 1208, with the Albigensian Crusades. Catharism was a dualistic form of Christianity: according to the Cathars, there was a spiritual world ruled by God, and a material world governed by Satan. Cathars were regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic church. When a Papal legate was assassinated in 1208, the Pope began a Crusade against the Cathars in the south west of France. In 1209, the Viscount of Carcassonne was defeated by Simon de Montfort.
The King of France exiled the inhabitants of Carcassonne for 7 years, and at the end of this time, he allowed them to build a fortified new town, or ville bastide, known as the Ville Basse (to the west of the river Aude), and to repair and strengthen the original fortress (to the east of the Aude). The fortress to the east of the river is what is known as la Cité de Carcassonne, and is the largest Medieval fortress in Europe. It was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the C19th.
La Cité has a double curtain wall, with 14 towers on the outer wall, and 24 towers on the inner wall. Inside is the C12th Château Comtal, which was the home of the viscounts of Carcassonne, and the Basilique Saint-Nazaire, begun in 1096 in a Romanesque style, and completed in the 1200s and 1300s in a Gothic style.
Leaving Carcassonne, the riders head south on the D108 to St-Hilaire and Limoux. Limoux stands on the river Aude, and is known for a sparkling white wine, Blanquette de Limoux.
They continue on the D620, over the Col de l'Espinas (494m) and the Col de St-Benoit (614m).
Next they pass the Lac de Montbel, before going through Le Peyrat and La Bastide-sur-l'.Hers.
Lavelanet is the next town on the route; Wikipedia says Fabien Barthez was born there. From there, the D117 takes the peloton west to the Ariège river. The riders follow the river south to Tarascon-sur-Ariège.
Primoz Roglic might not have time to stop off at the Parc de la Préhistoire, but if he did he could learn to hunt, paint, prepare flints, and light a fire à la 14,000 years ago.
This is where the proper climbing starts as the riders head up the D8/D15 to the Port de Lers (1517m).
There's a descent to Massat (654m).
From Massat, the D618 rises to the Col des Caougnous (Boussenac) at 947m. Then it's very steeply up the Mur de Péguère to the Col de Péguère (1375m).
The Tour de France came this way on Stage 14 of the 2012 edition. Sandy Casar was first over the top. The GC race was disrupted by tacks thrown on the road. If memory serves me well, le gentleman Bradley Wiggins waited for Cadel Evans when the Australian punctured multiple times.
The descent is via the Col de Jouels (1247m) and the Col des Marrous (990m) to Foix.
The finish line in Foix is on the D117 in front of the Mairie.
Foix is a significant town of 9,721 people. It was the historic capital of the Comté de Foix, and is now the capital of the Ariège département.
The Romans were the first to build a fort on the rocky outcrop where the Château de Foix now stands. In the Middle Ages, the town grew around an Abbey (founded in the C9th) and the château (the first iteration of which was built in the C10th).
Foix is twinned with Ripon in North Yorkshire.
This could be a stage for a breakaway. At the time of writing, I don't know which riders will be on team duty, and who will be free to go for the stage win. With that caveat, how about Soren Kragh Andersen, Warren Barguil, or Vincenzo Nibali to cross the line first in Foix?
Who do you think will win Stage 16?
Rough Guide to France.
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Massat is a town in the Ariège département, and within the regional natural park of the Pyrénées Ariégeoises.
The area was inhabited in Paleolithic times, as shown by the decorated caves known as Ker de Massat.
There was an iron industry here, but once that died, the area was essentially agricultural, producing in particular butter. Today, it is a peaceful backwater.
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