Stage 16 of the 2012 Tour de France provided the ultimate test.
Four iconic climbs (the Col d’Aubisque, the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d’Aspin, and the Col de Peyresourde) in a 197km stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon brought change and stasis.
The title defence of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) effectively ended with the loss of more than 10 minutes on the Peyresourde, while Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) ended the stage as he had begun: 2.23 down on Wiggins on GC, despite repeated attacks.
Here’s a selection of images from a grueling day in the Pyrenees from official UCI WorldTour photographer, Stefano Sirotti.
Thomas Voeckler won his fourth career stage of the Tour de France in the only way he knows: by attacking
Cadel Evans’ delivered his usual gritty performance, but slipped out of contention on the final climb
Bradley Wiggins stemmed the repeated attacks of Vincenzo Niabli, whose best efforts were not enough to distance the Londoner
No one could accuse Nibali of failing to give everything in his bid to win the Tour
After leading over the the summits of the Col d’Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin, Voeckler regained the lead in the King of the Mountains competition