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Stage 777 – Zuhibar to Boucau

The first full day stage in France on the return leg, and the first full stage on virtual French soil since stage 6. It’s no longer a case of drawing lines on maps to see which range of mountains or which grand lake stands in the way of progress. Now its just a case of scooting up the coast of the Bay of Biscay for a few stages then gradually cutting inland and setting a course for Paris. This stage looks demanding but that’s not necessarily the case on two grounds: it’s short at less than twenty miles, and even though the profile makes it look like a savage climber, it’s not: it’s a descender with a few hundred feet of ascent thrown in to keep it balanced.

The rollout is on a massive descent into Urrugne after the brute of a climb to the finish of stage 776. There, the D810 highway crosses the L’Untxin river and the Arrolakoerreka river in quick succession in the south east corner of the town before a lumpy stretch of road makes its way north east through Kexiloa and Ciboure to the major river crossing of the La Nivelle-Urdazuri heading into Saint Jean de Luz after four miles. The road snakes left/right into the heart of town then straightens up as it follows the coastline, albeit a mile inland from the sea, through Urthaburu with the main A63 autoroute on the right hand side.

The towns come thick and fast in this part of the Bay of Biscay. Larrebidea, where the junction of the D855 heads inland to Ahetze, is at seven miles at the top of a lumpy climb that began three miles earlier. The Akotz-Acotz campsite sits on the other side of the road across from Larrebidea looking out onto the sea. Guethary is at eight miles, then as the road descends back down towards the coast, it crosses the Uhabia river at nine miles before climbing into Bidart a mile later, halfway up the steepest ascent of the stage: the summit, next to the Erreka campsite, is at the highest elevation of the stage.

It’s not just the towns that keep coming: the campsites do too. Ibarritz plays host to three more at eleven miles with Lac Mouriscot half a mile away to the east (inland). Into Biarritz itself, the road hangs a big right at twelve miles that avoids the city centre, then a big left a mile later that cuts by the Parc des Sports Aguilera at fourteen miles. The long right hander out of Biarritz has Anglet on its inside on the right, then as the road enters Bayonne at seventeen miles, it bends left then left again over the L’Adour river and on towards the finish.

As the river curves right, the road goes with it, and with the river bank on its left hand side, enters the finishing straight in Boucau on flat terrain at the lowest elevation of the stage, just a few feet above sea level.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 627 feet / 191 metres

RGT Magic Road: i8Wfyb2ME3r1

Total distance: 19.51 mi
Max elevation: 337 ft
Min elevation: 6 ft
Total climbing: 618 ft
Total descent: -939 ft

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