Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Tour features some serious climbing and news from Meribel

The Tour de France rolls out of Gap in a couple of hours time for a stage which involves climbing and not surprisingly some tricky downhill sections as well. The town of Gap is the capital of the Hautes-Alpes and is located on the Napoleonic route that goes from Golfe-Juan to Grenoble. The history of the town is certainly rich, a commemorative plaque on the rue de France marks the place where in 1815  Napoleon stopped on his return from the Island of Elba. In 1692 the town was set alight and destroyed by the Duke of Savoy's troops. Today things are a bit quieter, Gap is the business Capital of Alpes de Sud and is home to "The Domaine de Charance" a large garden where you can admire a collection of over 1,000 varieties of roses.

No time for the Tour riders to stop and smell the roses today as they have to climb Alpe d'Huez not once but twice. As with many routes where the Tour has passed before the road is painted with the names of many great cyclists who have gone before them. The climb of Alpe d'Huez is notorious and has been the scene of many decisive battles in Tour history. The addition of the extra climb and a potentially dangerous descent is making this stage much talked about and no doubt there will be a few blurry eyes turning up for work in Sydney tomorrow morning.

As the Tour rumbles on Summer is well and truly underway in Meribel with a huge range of activities on offer some more relaxing than others! The Tourism office publishes a 2 week program which is available in English as well as French and is available through their web site:

The sun is shining in Meribel so why not consider seeing for yourself how beautiful the mountains are even without their snowy coats on

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Tour kicks off.........

The Tour de France is now underway; the race is currently in Corsica but will move to the French mainland tomorrow. This is the 100th Tour de France and comprises 21 stages making a total distance of 3,404 km. As usual there are several Mountain Stages including a couple of stages within easy reach of Meribel. 

Tour de France route 2013

The idea behind the race came from Géo Lefèvre, a journalist with L’Auto magazine. His editor, Henri Desgrange, was bold enough to believe in the idea and threw his backing behind the race soon to be known as The Tour de France. The first race commenced on 1 July 1903, sixty riders set out on their bicycles from Montgeron. After six stages including one of 471 km only 21 riders remained, and the Tour de France was born.

The Tour soon gained admiration from the public – sporting and spectator alike. The crowds that lined the route grew and the event became a great opportunity for the Villages and Towns the Tour passes through to showcase their individuality be it the scenery, their local food, wine or customs. The areas the Tour passes through are well aware of their role in the greatest free show on the planet.

The rules of the Tour and how a winner is decided are not simple; in fact the rulebook for this year runs to 41 pages. There are some obvious rules such as you must wear a helmet and it is forbidden for any rider to cross a closed level-crossing (riders who do so will be disqualified by the stewards). My favourite rule though is the very last one – Rule 32, which states that the rules will be written in French.As the sport grapples with the use of drugs in sport debate many feared that the Tour would no longer be able to attract the number of spectators and interest. It’s hard to say at the moment but the spectator numbers in Corsica certainly seem no less than one would expect to see. As the Tour reaches the area around Meribel we will post again with an update on how the race is shaping up. In the meantime late nights will be the order of the day for Australian Cycling fans eager to get their Cycling and French fix via coverage from SBS.

Corsica providing a beautiful backdrop