JEAN-FRANÇOIS PESCHEUX’S ANALYSIS : A record to celebrate a centenary
“We return to France and there are three very big cols on the menu. The Agnel will be tackled for the first time ever from this side, then there’s the Izoard and its legendary Casse Déserte, followed by the Galibier. This will be our chance to celebrate the centenary of this mythic climb’s first appearance on the race route back in the 1911 Tour de France. In addition, the finish, located at an altitude of 2,645 meters, will be the highest in the race’s history. It will remove from the history books the place held since 1986 by the 2,413m Col du Granon. This stage will certainly see a match-up between all those riders who are in contention for the overall title, as will the stage the following day. Whoever is leading the race runs the risk of succumbing to such physical demands.”
Stage 18 Climbs:
Km 107 - Col Agnel - 23.7 km at 6.5 (unclassified)
Km 145.5 - Col d'Izoard - 14.1 km at 7.3 (unclassified)
Km 200.5 - Col du Galibier - 22.8 km at 4.9 (unclassified)
• Stage town for the first time
• 36, 000 inhabitants
• Town of the Province of Turin (Italy)
Since it first appeared as part of the Giro route in1949, Pinerolo has hosted four other stage finishes and all of them have been won by Italian cyclists. The town was also used as the start site for an individual time-trial heading for the resort of Sestrières in 1993. At the height of his domination, wearing the pink jersey, Miguel Indurain finished first and was getting ready to win his second Tour of Italy. A few weeks later, the Spanish cyclist also won the Tour de France for the third time in a row.
• Stage site for the first time
• The Col du Galibier, the summit (2, 645 m) of Hautes-Alpes (05), on the territory of the commune of Monêtier-les-Bains (1, 060 inhabitants)
• Serre-Chevalier, the winter sports resort of Hautes-Alpes
The Col du Galibier, the natural border between the departments of the Hautes-Alpes and Savoie, is the summer gateway to the valley of Serre-Chevalier, which extends from the summit of the climb to the town of Briançon. Under a Mediterranean sky, amid larch forests and eternally snow-covered peaks and at the edge of the Ecrins national park, the Serre-Chevalier valley offers a range of mountain-based activities: a 300km network of sign-posted hiking trails, rock climbing, and white-water rafting and kayaking. There’s also a huge choice of routes for those wishing to explore on two wheels, and it’s the summit of the Col du Galibier where the finish line is for the SCLA – the “Serre-Che” Luc Alphand cyclosportive event, to which local man and former ski champion Luc Alphand gives his name. There’s also the thermal baths at Monêtier-les-Bains, whose waters are reputed to help gastric and rheumatic ailments in particular. In winter, Serre-Chevalier, home to 250km of ski-running, ranks as one of Europe’s largest ski resorts.
In 1911, the Tour’s peloton had hardly recovered from the shock of discovering the Pyrenean mountain passes, the year before. The cyclists were only slightly familiar with the Alps, even though the Col Bayard had already been crossed several times since 1905. The ascent to the Col du Galibier, which was being climbed for the first time, was via the north slope and took the race to another level. In those days it reached its highest point at an altitude of 2,556 meters. Since the building of a new road above the tunnel in the 1970s, its summit is now situated at an altitude of 2, 645 meters, which will allow it to surpass the Col du Granon (2, 413 meters) as the highest finish in the Tour’s history.