On Sunday, July 14, 2024, the Tour de France will pass the Couserans on the large Pyrenean stage between Loudenvielle and the Beille plateau. Saint-Girons will therefore be the first Ariège city to host Grande Boucle 2024.
There has been a long history between Saint-Girons and the Tour de France, punctuated by dramatic events as well as great sporting achievements. Memoir of Couserans Raymond Gabarre likes to tell an anecdote from 1910, when the “L’auto” newspaper race passed through Saint-Girons for the first time. The runners came from Perpignan, where they set off at 3.30am. Shortly after 11 o’clock Octave Lapize arrived in Saint-Girons and sat on the terrace of the Amade cafe, cooling off and eating. After resting for ten minutes, he emptied a can of “Amiel” brand beer and set off again towards Portet-d’Aspet.
Tour en Couserans highlights
On July 9, 1984, the finish was judged at Guzet on the Prat-Mataou field. After La Trappe’s pass, Laurent Fignon had left Bernard Hinault behind. Robert Millar achieved a great victory by leaving Bernaudeau and resisting Colombian Lucho Herrera.
On 10 July 1984, the twelfth stage of the Tour de France left Saint-Girons and reached Blagnac. Pierre Maurel was successful in his difficult challenge: He managed to finish the stage and start at Couserans. It managed to accommodate 4,000 people in the area.
In 1988 Grande Boucle returned to the Couseran ski resort. The arrival at the ski resort attracted thousands of spectators. In the final bends of the road, Philippe Bouvatier started the sprint. However, 400 meters before the finish line, he chose the wrong route… The winner was Massimo Chirotto. Pédro Delgado was already wearing the yellow jersey. The next day, takeoff took place in Saint-Girons, as in 1984.
On 16 July 1996, on the stage between Saint-Orens and Guzet, the weather was very bad in the Couseran mountains. Dropping everyone off at the port of L’Hers, Marco Pantani descended the Col d’Agnes at a speed of over 80 km per hour. All Tour enthusiasts still remember the shaved head and protruding ears of the Italian rider who emerged from the fog to win at Prat Mataou.
After a day’s rest in the festive Saint-Girons, unfortunately the next day was a day of mourning. Indeed, on the stage to Cauterets, Italian Olympic champion Fabio Casartelli was killed during the descent from Portet-d’Aspet. The winner of this solo stage, Richard Virenque, was unaware of this accident when he arrived…
By the morning of July 14, 2024, runners will have already passed the passes of Mente and Portet-d’Aspet, and after passing the capital of the Couserans, they will head towards Aulus-les-Bains, then the pass of Agnes and the Port. It belongs to Lers.