SAINT-LARY-SOULAN, FRANCE

Pandemonium and prestige in the Pyrenees mark the Tour de France's crucial stage
June 26, 2005

The most anticipated stage of the 92nd Tour de France will take place on Day 15 (July 17) in Saint-Lary-Soulan. The queen stage, the crucial point in the battle for the yellow jersey, will feature six classified climbs stretching 128 miles. Bob Roll, who raced in four Tours and now works as a race commentator for the Outdoor Life Network, gives the lowdown on this year's high point.

Competition: "It'll be a flat-out, superhard, vicious bike race that day. That stage will take on a lot more strategic meaning. You'll see some really spectacular attacking. I see Lance [Armstrong], [Roberto] Heras, [José] Azevedo, Jan Ullrich, [Alexander] Vinokourov, Levi Leipheimer and Floyd Landis. It'll be a close race at that point."

Best viewing spot: "If you have the patience and courage, the last climb [the 5,510-foot Pla d'Adet] is ideal."

Fans: "It's near Basque country. The fans are more vociferous than the French, and they're right next to the riders."

Traffic: "They let all the riders off the mountain first, and they're laughing at the rest of us. You have to get ready for the evacuation. It's a disaster. If you have a bicycle or a motorcycle, you can get off the mountain fast."

COLOR PHOTOPATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (TOUR DE FRANCE) CROWN 'EM The Tour's climb-filled queen stage could decide the champ.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)