Today was our prologue ride. We had to go easy, knowing what lies ahead. The day started with a beautiful climb up the southeast side of Col d'Aspin followed by a descent down to the valley. We then began the day's big climb; Col du Tourmalet. I climbed the west side of Tourmalet last month during the Tour, but wanted to experience the west side. It was just as hard. The sun was beating down today (80-90f) and the pitch was a constant 8%-9% for 12+km.
After a quick lunch we made our way back to Saint-Lary-Soulan via a cat-1 climb, Hourquette d'Ancizan. It turned out to be a hidden gem. Ancizan appears occasionally in the Tour, but its not well known. We climbed the north side through a stunning valley. In some ways, this little surprise was the highlight of the day. Here are some pictures from Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Hourquette d'Ancizan.