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Iconic climb may replace traditional Parisien procession for 100th edition

The 2013 Tour de France might not end in the now-traditional procession around the Champs Elysees, but up the races' most iconic climb, the Alpe d'Huez. That's one rumour ahead of the official presentation of the route later this month, but another is that the famous ascent will be tackled on the preceding Thursday - not once, but twice.

According to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, sources within Tour organiser ASO say that next year's 100th edition of the Tour may abandon one tradition to mark the importance of another.

The Tour has only finished on the Champs Elysees since 1975, but L'Alpe d'Huez was first included in 1952 and has been considered the crux of the race whenever it has figured since.

Fausto Coppi set the trend in 1952, winning the stage up L'Alpe d'Huez and going on to win the race overall. Coppi took the yellow jersey on the Alpe, the Tour's first mountain-top finish, and held it all the way to Paris.

Coppi's victory, shedding Jean Robic 6km from the summit, was covered by motorcycle cameramen, another first in the 1952 Tour. The drama of that win transformed the way the Tour was run and marks a turning point between the Tours of the pre-WW2 era and the modern race.

While a Tour finish on L'Alpe would be dramatic, it might pose problems. An Alpe stage commonly attracts 350,000-400,000 spectators. Accommodating them is a logistical and policing headache that would only be made worse if the climb also hosted the finish.

The traditional finish also plays host to a large corporate hospitality area, which might be hard to replicate in a small ski town at the top of a small winding road.

However, according to the Velowire website, run by Thomas Vergouwen who scours local newspapers for news of future Tours and backs up his hunches by for example finding out which hotels are block booked on specific days in particular locations, the final days of the race will have a rather different flavour.

Thomas, who has seen the Tour from the inside - he used to write the race blog for official partner, Orange - has forged a well deserved reputation for being able to second-guess ASO on the following year's route; in the past couple of years, he's had it pretty much spot on by the eve of the official unveiling.

So what does he foresee happening? Well, besides the mouthwatering prospect of a Bastille Day summit finish on Mont Ventoux on Stage 15, the following Thursday's Stage 18 will start in Gap, according to local newspaper the Dauphiné Libéré.

It says the race will head up the Alpe d'Huez, then back down to Bourg d'Oisans before winding back up those famous hairpins. If true, not only will Dirk Hofmann presumably be spending the winter fitting larger fridges to his fleet of motorhomes, but we imagine it will even more of a party than usual on Dutch Corner.

The previous day's stage, by the way, is predicted to be a mountain time trial from Embrun to Chorges. According to Velowire, the final day will see the race end, as usual, on the Champs-Elysees, where Mark Cavendish has never been beaten and will be heading for an astonishing fifth consecutive win.

Next year's race route will be officially announced in Paris in a little over a foright's time, when we'll find out which of the route rumours were based in fact and which were wishful thinking.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

24 comments

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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that would be quite brilliant imo, but what about those spectators ...

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gbzpto [93 posts] 3 years ago
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I have it on good authority that the last stage of the 2013 tdf will not finish on Alpe d'huez. It will be visiting a few days earlier though

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davkt [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Well I suppose that would be one way of stopping Cav winning the last stage again!

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othello [359 posts] 3 years ago
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Won't happen. The TdF is so big now, that it has to be Paris for space/logistical reasons alone.

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Gary613 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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I would hope Saturdays stage will finish on the Alpe, effectively finishing and setting the 2013 Tour standings and result, whilst Sunday would be the Champs now traditional showcase with sprint.

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Raleigh [1665 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm enjoying the TT as penultimate stage.

Ahh!

An Alpe D'Huez TT

That would be totally wicked

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 3 years ago
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I believe D'Huez will be two days before the finish. Penultimate day will be a nice difficult TT and then Paris

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jamjam [61 posts] 3 years ago
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if this was the last stage, it would mean whoever has the yellow jersey wouldn't be able to enjoy a nice easy day to celebrate, as they could lose it at the last second

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kayakboyuk [30 posts] 3 years ago
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How about another TT in Paris like Lemond's dramatic last day victory. The Alpe then Paris TT would certainly be a weekend finale to be remembered. Imagine Chris/Brad loosing seconds to Contador on the mountain then battering them back down the cobbles! (sorry Cav.)

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mattsccm [324 posts] 3 years ago
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Anything to stop the procession.

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othello [359 posts] 3 years ago
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If all the rumours are true, Ventoux on Bastille Day, the Alpe twice etc, I'm not overly taken by the route.

I really thought that for the 100th race they would use classic stages from the past 100 tours - a TT up Ventoux for example.

I like the Corsica stages -- they are going to be lumpy and should mean an interesting yellow jersey holder for the few days there. But I really thought they would go for a mountain fest, especially after this year.

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Darthshearer [134 posts] 3 years ago
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If all the rumours are true, Ventoux on Bastille Day, the Alpe twice etc, I'm not overly taken by the route.

You're not a sky fan are you?

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nevman [18 posts] 3 years ago
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We can discount riders descending AdH at 90kph with 400,000 spectators on the hill.But it would be great to see a full 21 days of racing to include the final day-no one could be sure of the outcome then.

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Simon_MacMichael [2442 posts] 3 years ago
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nevman wrote:

We can discount riders descending AdH at 90kph with 400,000 spectators on the hill.But it would be great to see a full 21 days of racing to include the final day-no one could be sure of the outcome then.

According to the Dauphine, they wouldn't be going back down the same way they came up...

 3

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pj [147 posts] 3 years ago
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if not then they'd have to go over the sarenne i guess and down that way, then loop back round to bourg. that would be pretty cool.

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Farky [183 posts] 3 years ago
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I didnt realise the rumour was the very last stage - thats a procession - not a chance!

I thought we had this 100yr celebration a few years back anyway! Whats that all about.

Twice up the AdH would pretty much finish Cav off though and the entire groupetta! Out of time boys...go home early thanks.

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Darthshearer [134 posts] 3 years ago
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Farky wrote:

I didnt realise the rumour was the very last stage - thats a procession - not a chance!

I thought we had this 100yr celebration a few years back anyway! Whats that all about.

Twice up the AdH would pretty much finish Cav off though and the entire groupetta! Out of time boys...go home early thanks.

It depends on the route tbh. If its twice over Alpe, with a chance to recover in between and not much climbing around he will make it. He did the 'circle of death' this year.

Also, depends on the attacking at the front also. No Team Sky bus like this year turning the race into a snooze fest could make things interesting for the fun bus like you say.

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Simon_MacMichael [2442 posts] 3 years ago
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Farky wrote:

I didnt realise the rumour was the very last stage - thats a procession - not a chance!

I thought we had this 100yr celebration a few years back anyway! Whats that all about.

2003 was the Centenary edition. This is the 100th race due to racing being suspended during the two World Wars.

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CarbonBreaker [84 posts] 3 years ago
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Sarenne descent would be fun to see, but lethal with spectators all over it, (if you could move the sheep off the road)...

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WolfieSmith [1244 posts] 3 years ago
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A TT up Ventoux would be interesting. Horrendous for the riders but what a spectacle for us. Really looking forward to 2013. It could be wide open and with the start in Corsica it's going to be even more beautiful in terms of scenery than ever before.

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Windyhead [6 posts] 3 years ago
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Gary613 wrote:

I would hope Saturdays stage will finish on the Alpe, effectively finishing and setting the 2013 Tour standings and result, whilst Sunday would be the Champs now traditional showcase with sprint.

wow - this would be awesome.

agree about the logistical nightmare of housing the teams and fans on Huez. Also the finish attracts all sorts of fans and would be asking for trouble in terms of people on th road and giving riders a push etc. etc.

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Zebra [33 posts] 3 years ago
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The Saurenne is a fantastic road, but very narrow. It would be a very technical, scary descent. Since it branches off the main LdH road near the top (turn 7?) it would mean that the peleton would not see the higher slopes and the village until the finale. Imagine thousands of spectators desperately running uphill from turn 7 after the first pass in order to get a spot in the village for the finale. Chaos!

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markh71 [8 posts] 3 years ago
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hate to say it, but after todays news, lets just finish the Tour altogether
...or let them all take whatever drugs they want...

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n085329 [1 post] 3 years ago
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There's a turn off (to the right) to the Sarenne from the very last left hander as they come up to the finish line of AdH climb (literally 50m from the finish line, so they would easily be able to accommodate that.

(you're right however in that there is also a route to the Sarenne from turn 6 or so).

Quite how they go about paving the road from the village up to the top of the Sarenne is another story. It was a very rough road when I rode it last year. The top half of the descent back to the base of Les Deux Alpes is also very poor road.