Tour de France 2021 – Recap

As promised, I will conclude the reporting on my Tour de France 2021 with a recap.

I cycled 14 out of 15 available days and have my own stupidity to blame for having a “rest day”.

While I guess this Tour de France once again showed I’m (still) capable of pushing myself through – and over – my limits, there’s no denying that I will have to take it down a notch.

How much will also depend on my capability to keep enduring the back pain on every climb.

Sure, taking in the mostly overwhelming landscapes, the feeling of tininess when looking around and the stunning views are great “distractors”.

But I keep increasing the number of short breaks to ease the pain, which eventually do not help very much any more either.

On the upside, these enable me to take in more of the views and make pictures too 😂

Anyway, lets get to the recap…

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Tour de France 2021 – Other Areas (Part 2)

Exploring the climbs and passes for my Tour de France 2021, I’ve started with those in and close to our base camp, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

In an earlier post, I’ve covered (most of) the possibilities starting close to our doorstep, not requiring a car transfer before getting on my bike.

In this post, like in the previous, I’ll cover (some of) the possibilities a bit further away, which are still within reach, but for which I may opt for a car transfer before getting on my bike.

Today, I’ll turn my focus outside the north-eastern end of the Maurienne valley, past Albertville, into the Beaufort valley.

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Tour de France 2021

So, thanks to the ongoing pandemic and subsequent “no fly” policy in the family, I got another cycling adventure this year.

As we were going to France, I have obviously and as usual dubbed it “Tour de France 2021”.

While I did feel sorry for Paula’s not getting her well deserved sun vacation, I was also excited at the prospect of having another go at the giants of the French Alps.

I was thinking (again) to plan for the Pyrenees, but I eventually couldn’t withstand the temptation of a remake of part one of my Tour de France 2014.

That was way too short – not the tour, just the first part – to tackle everything that’s in that area.

So for the Tour de France 2021, we rented an apartment in Saint-Jean-de Maurienne, which is located at the base of the…

*Drum Roll*

Col de la Croix de Fer.

 

Anyone familiar with the Savoie area, will know that a bit further south, you’ll find Saint-Michel-de Maurienne, at the base of the TĂ©lĂ©graphe/Galibier.

Or the fork to Valmeinier, which I did take on this time, unlike in 2014, when I didn’t have the time.

North of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, La Chambre is (near) the starting point for the climbs up the East end of the Glandon and the west end of the Madeleine.

Not to mention that in between those two, the Lacets de Montvernier seems to be a “must” and that (short) snake was a first for me.

I have dedicated several posts discussing the various alternatives and climbs starting at our doorstep (Col du Mollard, La Toussiere, Les Sybelles – too many) and further out.

That included a stage with the Iseran from Modane and a revisit some of the cols between Albertville (Beaufort), Moutiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

MĂ©ribel and Courchevel were new to me in that area, but La Plagne, Les Arcs and the majestic Roselend were not.

The latter I eventually climbed from Beaufort, via the Col du Pré.

And yes, a Marmotte alternative was in the back of my head again too, so it looked very likely I would get my 10th Alpe d’Huez in the books 🙂

In the menu to the right of this page – or at the bottom, if you’re reading this on your smartphone – you’ll find links to everything you never wanted to know, but maybe will dream of doing yourself now too.

Let’s just say that this Tour de France 2021 for sure did include a jubilee 10th ascend of the Alpe d’Huez 🎉

Tour de France

As I do most certainly not object to an opportunity to destroy myself in other areas than the Dolomites, I have no problem with organizing my own versions of the ‘Tour de France’.

Although my cycling heart belongs to the Dolomites, Paula is more charmed with the French part of the Alps, so sometimes you have to compromise 🙂

We planned a first trip there for the summer of 2010, but Paula ended up in the hospital on our day of departure, so those plans were put on ice until 2014. In September 2017, I went back for another ‘Tour de France’…

Regions

RhĂŽne-Alpes

Certainly one of the areas popular among cyclists, more specifically the (Haute-)Savoie and IsÚre regions.

If you’re looking for famous climbs like Alpe d’Huez, La Plagne, Croix de Fer or Madeleine to name a few, as well as Europe’s highest natural pass the Iseran, this region is for you.

The Lautaret (IsÚre) and Télégraphe/Galibier (Savoie) are also waiting for you here and they both connect to the neighbouring Haute-Alpes.

On the Iseran

Alpes-CĂŽte d’Azur

South of the RhÎne-Alpes, this region is most known for the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Haute-Alpes, although the Vaucluse is home to the infamous Ventoux.

In the Haute-Alpes you’ll find a score of well known climbs, like the Lautaret/Galibier (the other end, from Briançon) the Izoard and Risoul. The Agnel is leading into Italy, the Vars is connecting to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

There, you will find the Allos, Bonette and Cayolle, both of which, like the Col des Champs, connect to the southern Alpes-Maritimes.

Where to stay?

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

I really enjoyed our stay in Jausiers, close to Barcelonnette. I guess Barcelonnette can be compared to a village like Cortina d’Ampezzo or Val Gardena.

And there are plenty of cycling adventures to undertake from there.

View form Jausiers towards the Bonette

You can even get a ‘Brevet des 7 Cols d’Ubaye’, for which you need to climb the Bonette, Vars, Cayolle and the Allos. Plus three lesser known and smaller climbs: Saint-Jean, Pontis and the MontĂ©e de Sainte-Anne. These last two are quite steep by the way…

Other than those, the area offers some climbs to other ski resorts, like Pra Loup and le (Super) Sauze and the Col de Larche. A little further out, on the south side of the Bonette, you can go from Isola to Isola 2000 and the Col de la Lombarde.

While we were there, I was able to squeeze in a stage involving the Agnel (French side) and the Izoard, so those are not too far out either, though you have to get over the Vars first…

Hautes-Alpes

Looking at the map of the area, either Guillestre or Briançon looks like the place to start your cycling adventures and the two cities are ‘connected’ by the Izoard.

Guillestre is also at the base of the Vars and Risoul. Getting over the Vars brings you to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence…

Briançon is located at the base of the Lautaret and the climb up MontgenÚvre, leading into Italy.

Near Briançon, a few kilometers up the Lautaret, you can find the Col du Granon.

And as it is close to Italy, Sestriere and the Finestre are within reach, as I experienced during the Tour de France 2017.

Savoie

Both during our training stage and our first week in the Tour de France of 2014, I discovered that the area around Moutiers is not so bad either.

In 2014 we were based close to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, with three major cols starting from there: Petit Saint-Bernard, Cormet de Roselend and the highest ‘natural’ pass of Europe, the Iseran.

Actually, there are five cols to be had, if you count the dead end climbs to the ski resorts of les Arcs and the more famous La Plagne.

From Moutiers you can eat your heart out on the 35+ kilometer long climb to Val Thorens, near the summit of which we stayed during our training in 2012.

North(-west) of Moutiers, you can find the Madeleine.

In 2021, we will revisit this area, as you can read below.

IsĂšre

Probably the obvious choice for this area, would be Le Bourg-d’Oisans, although Allemond or Vaujany offer good alternatives.

We stayed in Villard-Reymond during our 2012 Alpe d’HuZes, but that village turned out to be rather remote…

Tour de France 2021

Coming this summer, starting on July 30, I will revisit the area where my Tour de France history began in 2014: the Savoie.

For my Tour de France 2021, we have picked just one location: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, at the base of the Croix de Fer.

North of our base camp, you will find the Glandon and Madeleine, with the Lacets du Montvernier in between, to the south you’ll find the TĂ©lĂ©graphe/Galibier.

There’s a score of other cols nearby and a bit further out, some of those probably requiring a transfer by car first.

More on this trip here.

Tour de France 2017

In September of 2017, I paid another visit to the French Alps for my very own Tour de France 2017.

Other than during my previous Tour in 2014, when we switched locations four times, I picked a single location for our base camp that year: Briançon.

Like Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Jausiers in 2014, the city of Briançon is strategically located at the base of several mountain passes…

More on this trip here.

Tour de France 2014

After I had a taste of the French Alps during our 2012 training for Alpe d’HuZes, I eventually organized my first Tour de France in 2014. We were located close to Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Barcelonnette respectively.

During that tour, that was originally planned for 2010, the ‘Brevet des 7 Cols d’Ubaye’ was on the to-do list.

I also engineered a ‘little detour’ to pay a visit to BĂ©doin, with the objective of obtaining the CinglĂ© du Mont Ventoux.

You can find everything you never wanted to know about that trip here.

What about the Pyrenees?

As of now, I have not yet gathered a lot of ‘intel’ on the Pyrenees. I very nearly organized another Tour located in the area, but that plan didn’t make it, in favor of another Giro.

However, I most likely will get there eventually…

After all, my (cycling) life will never be complete if I have not cycled up legendary cols like the Aubisque, Peyresourde, Tourmalet or Luz-Ardiden 🙂