The Tour de France

  • © B. Bade

  • © B. Bade

  • © B. Bade

The Tour de France
By Marguerite Richards

Trailblazing2 Wheels, 23 Days

This year, the Tour de France marks its 100th edition, and for the first time in a decade, the race is dedicated solely to metropolitan France. No better chance to see the whole country…at top speed!

You’re getting sleepy. Your eyelids are starting to droop. Sleepier now…you are so relaxed, and finally you are so tired that you forget all that talk about Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal… But what you do remember is that the Tour de France is an opportunity to get real-time panoramic views of nearly the entire country. You remember that if you stay home and watch it on the tube, you’ll catch glimpses into the lives of real French people in their country villages, overjoyed in preparation for the moment the cyclists fly by. Or if you attend, you’ll get to party with them – to clink your glass and celebrate as the real French do. For European travel lovers, even those of the armchair variety, this year’s race is not to be missed.  

Le Grand Départ in Corsica

The centennial kick-off is a first-time location, and the Grand Départ is set for the island of Corsica, where the two main departments, Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud, are the only ones in metropolitan France that have never hosted the competition. Literally a mountain in the sea, Corsica is all rocky landscapes at the edge of blue waters… enough to tease any amateur rider into slowing down to enjoy breathtaking views. Locals are terribly proud of the opportunity to show off their stuff, ready for the world to finally get a solid understanding of their destination.

The Climb for GloryIndeed the race is legendary, especially in the mountainous areas. These tough cyclists ride on for the win through heat exhaustion, dehydration, sprained ankles and even broken limbs. They are also greatly rewarded by the vigorous encouragement of their loyal fans, at every finish line of the race. The summit of Mont Ventoux, also known as the “Beast of Provence”, is an example of the near impossible feat. This wildly windy mountain is 12.9 miles (20.8 km) of ride at an average 7.5% gradient, and proved to be too much for one cyclist, Tom Simpson, who denied defeat all the way until the very end, allegedly pleading to be put back on his bike after he had fallen.A particularity in regards to the summits of this year’s race is the famous Alpe d'Huez, which will be seen twice for the first time in history. Imagine getting through 21 narrow switchbacks for 8.6 miles (13.8 km) at an average 7.9% gradient...a near-mythical achievement testing the willpower of any human – and the riders have to do it twice!Tour fanatics all agree that the mountain stages are the best places to see the race live; at the flatter runs, photos of riders are nothing but colorful, high speed blur. So go pack your tent and hiking boots, and get ready for adventure because no rain, snow, sun, or storm will put an end to your Tour of France! 

Cheat Sheet
When They Ride
June 29 through July 21
Total distance 2,088 miles = 3,360 km
21 Stages
7 flat 5 hilly
6 mountain stages with 4 summit finishes
2 individual time trials
1 team time trial
2 rest days

Jerseys :

-Yellow for the individual winner of a time classification

-Green for winning the most points

-Red polka dots for the best climber

-White for the best individual young rider in a time classification 

For complete details: letour.com