Less than a week before the start, the road book to Cyclopaat’s Tour de France 2014 has finally been released.
Suffice it to say that this year’s tour for professionals pales in comparison to this, at least as far as mountain stages are concerned.
First reconnaissance was done using the excellent “Cycling the Alps” website, trying to figure out how to catch as many cols in each stage as possible.
Stages were then drawn with the help of Strava’s mapping utility, listing segments and determining where the KOM points will be given.
Needles to say, we’re feeling sorry for the poor bastards that will have to endure this kind of insanity, inflicted by a race director as disturbed as the infamous Grunter von Agony, who will probably weep with joy and incorporate some of this shit in his next production.
So, let’s introduce the fools who have signed up for this “Mother of All Tours”, shall we?
Anyway, Cyclopaat will be ready for the prologue and the first stages around Bourg-Saint-Maurice, followed by a stage from to Vaujany and one from Bédoin, where the dreaded Mont Ventoux will be tackled from three sides.
To say that this is only a build up to the hard part of the tour would be a lie. But if he makes it to Barcelonnette, he will face another series of brutal stages to finish off what’s left of him…
Cormet de Roselend and Col du Pré
Either this, or the Petit Saint-Bernard, will be the first stage – warming up in the area with some “easy” climbs is near impossible, so it’s serious right from the start…
Petit Saint-Bernard and Tigne
The Grand-Bernard is too far out – it’s starting in Aosta, which is about an hour (by car) from the summit of the “Petit”, but it would also be an over two hour drive back from the summit of the “Grand”.
The climb to Tigne may be swapped for the other side of the “Petit”, i.e. descend towards La Thuile and return, in which case it will “only” be a 64.4 kilometer ride, ending on top of the “Petit”…
Col de la Madeleine
The col that couldn’t be climbed in (May) 2012 because it was still closed and we’ll do both sides in one ride. The initial plan was to add the Glandon (which is at the end of the descent from the Madeleine towards La Chambre), but that climb will be combined with l’Iseran / Mont Cenis.
Col de l’Iseran, Mont Cenis and Glandon
Transferring to Vaujany, we’ll cross Europe’s highest “natural” pass, the Iseran. The Cime de la Bonette is a little higher, but that round-about at the top is – like the one the Galibier – a little “artificial”.
It looks like a ridiculously long stage, but a transfer by car from Lanslebourg to the foot of the Glandon is likely, cutting some 60 – mainly downhill – kilometers…
Croix de Fer, Mollard, Télégraphe and Galibier
If at all possible – which is not very likely – this stage may be extended down the Lautaret, by car for the weak, towards Lac du Chambon for Les Deux Alps and/or Col de Sarenne.
The top of Les Deux Alps will be at 160 kilometers, adding some 600 altimeters. The Sarenne will add almost 1,000 more (plus over 20 kilometers).
However, that last climb is deviating a bit too much from the route towards Bédoin, where we’re heading next for the Ventoux. As this is a 300 kilometer, over 3 hour drive, it may be wise to preserve some energy for the Cinglé…
Cinglé du Mont Ventoux
The “Windy Mountain”, the “Giant of the Provence” – a moon-like landscape once you leave the forest, blistering hot in the summer, freezing cold in the winter and a Mistral wind that will blow you out of your toe-clips – er, click pedals…
Did we mention the relentless inclines, often around a steady 10% for kilometer after kilometer?
Col de Saint-Jean and Pontis
No easy stages here either, but this one’s the shortest stage from Barcelonnette. However, it does include the steepest col from the “brevet”: the col de Pontis, averaging 10% but thankfully only little over 5 kilometers in length…
Cime de la Bonette, Lombarde and Col de Larche (IT)
This stage will bring us to the “Cima Coppi” of the tour. See next stage: if it’s clear beforehand that the Larche cannot be cycled from the French side, this stage may be altered to include both sides of the Lombarde, also tackling the Bonette from Isola on the return to Barcelonnette.
Col de Larche (FR), Lombarde and Cime de La Bonette
The return trip – officially the road up the Larche is closed for cyclists to (at least) Meyronnes, but that ban may not be strictly enforced. If it is, cycling up the Larche will start from wherever it’s allowed, or this stage might be skipped/swapped altogether – see previous stage and the stage with the Fauniera…
Col d’Allos, des Champs and de la Cayolle
Two more from the brevet, linked by the Col des Champs to make a nice round trip.
Sainte-Anne, Col de Vars, Agnel and Izoard
The final two cols for the brevet, Sainte-Anne and Vars, which might be extended with cycling up the Agnel and if possible up the Izoard too.
It’s not often we get the chance to include two beauties like that, but I may put those into a separate stage…
Colle Fauniera / dei Morti
Although outside of the original scope of the tour, the Colle Fauniera, a.k.a. dei Morti, made it to the bucket list. As this means crossing the Larche (again), a transfer to/start from Demonte would be preferable. This also means it may be a good opportunity to tackle the Larche from the Italian side on the return, in which case the Bonette stage will be the one with the Lombarde back and forth (see before)…
1,496.4 kilometers – 50,701 meters
The maximum total – according to Strava – for the above stages, which are more or less intended and official, although the order may change and/or be influenced by the weather conditions.
And although all famous cols have been included, there are more to be explored, as we will be in the area(s) for a few days more.
In the Bourg-Saint-Maurice area (from Beaufort) there’s the Col des Saisies and the Signal the Bisanne.
From Barcelonnette, also the climbs to Pra-Loup and Le-(Super)-Sauze are within reach, as is a nice round trip around the lake (to Embrun).
As it is, anyone – and certainly Cyclopaat – will be lucky to manage the planned stages, so perhaps the extra days may be better spent as rest days…
Tour de France 2014 – main page.