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2011 Tour De France, Stage Thirteen Preview: Col D'Aubisque Comes Calling

The 2011 Tour de France makes its now regular pilgrimage to Col d'Aubisque with a monster climb followed by a fairly mellow descent into Lourdes. Stage Thirteen runs 152.5 kilometers from Pau to Lourdes. For the most part the stage is actually not all that difficult. However, at the 91 kilometer mark the stage begins a stiff clim up Col d'Aubisque from 499 meters to 1,709 meters in the span of 19 kilometers. The stage features three climbs. At 43.5 kilometers, the cyclists climb Côte de Cuqueron, which is a Category 3 climb of 1.5 km to 8.1 %. At 65 kilometers, the cyclists climb Côte de Belair, which is a Category 4 climb of 1.0 km to 8.4 %. Finally, they climb Col d'Aubisque for 16.4 kilometers. Following the climb they descend almost entirely to Lourdes and pray for the healing waters.

The climbers will be able to advantage during the climb, but as the race descends down into Lourdes, sprinters will be looking to regain lost time. Team Radio Shack is struggling to do much of anything at this point with the entire team well out of first. While they aren't wishing injury upon anybody, they have to be hoping for an accident or two to open things a bit more. At this point the team is just looking for a reasonable finish.

Stage thirteen begins at 5:00am pacific on VERSUS. NBCSports.com will continue to provide a live online stream via subscription service.

We'll be here for the entire race providing news updates and stage previews and recaps, particularly as they relate to Bay Area cyclist Levi Leipheimer. For more in-depth discussion on the 2011 Tour De France, head over to Podium Cafe. For more general Tour coverage, head over to the SB Nation story stream.