Stage 13: Narbonne - Nîmes
Monday, June 9, 2008 11.00pm
Two Roman settlements set the stage
With just three fourth category climbs in the way, this should once again be a stage for the sprinters.
The route continues its way across the southern edge of France between the Pyrenees and the Alps. It's likely that a break will try to get away, but even more likely that the sprinters' domestiques will bring them back before they reach the finish.
The stage travels from one Roman settlement to another: leaving the oldest one in Narbonne, and arriving in probably the most famous one in Nîmes. The capital of the Gard department, Nîmes is home to probably the highest concentration of historic Roman sites outside Italy. These include the best preserved arena in France – which still gets used for concerts and bullfights, the Maison Carrée – a temple dedicated to the sons of Agrippa, and most famously: the Pont du Gard – a three level aqueduct which lies 20 kilometres to the north.
Nîmes' other big claim to fame is as the origin of Serge de Nîmes, an indigo blue fabric that has changed the world. Over the years its name has been shortened to one word that most people will recognise: Denim.
The city has hosted the Tour 15 times before, with Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) taking the victory in 2004, the last time it finished here.