2014 sees the 101st Tour de France but age does not diminish the excitement of this spectacular bike race… and this year will see Tour de France fever in the French mountains for a thrilling race of ups and downs…
22 teams, 21 stages, 3,656 kilometres over 21 days – it is gruelling, dangerous and feverishly thrilling. This year, one of the world’s greatest sporting events will feature just one time trial, cobblestones and more mountain stages than ever before, which promises to make it the most enthralling contest in recent memory. It’s also a chance to give the millions of spectators around the world, the chance to discover a myriad of mountain magic across three of France’s 5 major mountain ranges. The Vosges in eastern France in particular will appear on many people’s radars for the first time, with 3 stages, whilst the classic massifs of the Pyrenees and the Alps host 3 and 2 stages respectively.
Tour de France 2014 Vosges
Relatively unknown until recently to participants and spectators alike, The Vosges massif welcomes 3 critical stages for 2014.
Stage 8 passes through La Bresse before a series of thigh-screaming climbs to Gerardmer, the steepest of which the Col de la Grosse Pierre reaches 16%. Gerardmer itself is stunning town, nicknamed the “Pearl of the Vosges” by Abel Hugo (Victor’s brother).
Stage 9 by contrast features a series of longer gentler climbs, before another steep up-and-down leg.
Stage 10, passes through the idyllic village of Ventron and culminates in a savage 20% climb La Planche des Belles Filles, scene of Chris Froome’s epic breakaway in 2012.
Tour de France fever in the Alps
Both Alpine stages will present new challenges to the riders, almost all of whom will be unfamiliar with the stunning new routes.
Stage 13 culminates in the first summit finish in Chamrousse, a popular mountain resort within touching distance of Grenoble.
Stage 14 will feature 2 of the highest points on the Tour. After passing through the legendary untamed ski resort of La Grave, riders will climb the Col de Lauteret (2058m), descend the Serre Chevalier Valley to beautiful Briançon, Europe’s highest city and Unesco World Heritage site, before the long climb to the Col d’Izoard at 2360m. This leg finishes in the popular sunny mountain resort of Risoulin the Hautes Alpes.
Tour de France in the Pyrenees
Much like the region itself, the 3 Pyrenean legs of the Tour have a bit of everything, both to test the riders and to delight spectators.
Stage 16 is the longest stage of the Tour, starting in Carcassonne and culminating in a monster 20km climb La Porte des Balès, ending up in the idyllic village of Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Stage 17 is the shortest, most hectic stage of this year’s race and, “without a doubt this year’s highlight”. The contrast between the riding over these two stages and the destination of Saint Lary Soulan, a serene Pyrenean spa resort, couldn’t be more marked!
Stage 18’s highlight is its highest point- the Col du Tourmalet(2115m)- between Bareges and La Mongie which together form the biggest mountain resort of the French Pyrenees, in the shadow of the famous Pic du Midi du Bigorre and its remarkable mountaintop observatory.
Find out more about the French Mountains at: www.france-montagnes.com
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