We based ourselves in Albertville for week 3 of Tour de France...a hotel where we have stayed every year 2008-2013. Albertville is not the prettiest town but is within 2-3hour drive of all the French alp locations and often much less.It is best known for the 1992 Winter Olympics and even in mid-summer snow is still visible on the surrounding alps. Best for me is the flat bike trail that runs from near Albertville to Annecy.
The plan for the week: Not possible to watch the Embrun-Chorges time trial on mid-course AND Alpe d'Huez stage from summit without difficulty. We didn't make that choice until the last minute.
Col de Manse
Drove from Albertville to Gap (Col de Manse) and set up for the day. We had watched the stage in 2011 (where Andy Schleck lost the tour on the descent of Col). Had a run around Puy de Manse. Watched the race on car tv until the riders were near, ran 300m across a paddock to the 10km kite and positioned myself to get on tv. Minnie and I both on the tv again...mission possible.
Embrun - Chorges TT
They had locked down the course already we discovered from reading the paper. Watched from Albertville on tv.
Drove very early in the morning (5:15am) to Bourg d'Oisans, ran, met our French friends Claude, Virginie and Chloe, walked up the mountain until we could no more. It ended up being a great day and one I will never forget. Sure I was on tv again. We were illegally parked in the supermarche all day so hard to move some barriers to escape after midnight after coffee and watching animations in Bourg. Asleep in Albertville at 2am.
Ran in the morning on the bike path at Ugine. The race came to within a few hundred metres of the hotel, some mad sumo. Sure I was on tv again. Watched on tv in the hotel, ran to course in time to see the riders start the climb up Col de Tamie, ran back to hotel to watch on tv.
Drove to the road block in Annecy and made sure we weren't parked on course. Ran a return 20km to Annecy to wander town, swim, see animations, returned to road block to see caravan pass, drove back to Albertville to watch race on tv...very exciting almost finish.
Will watch from here on tv. Postscript: I fear this tour will be another lost to drugs in sport. Any google search of GAS6 Thomas Frei Leinders Sky Froome will lead to answers where the dots seem to join up. GAS6 has reportedly been in the peloton since before the Giro. History tells the truth almost always comes out...there is no hiding. Cycling News Forum has been shut down unexpectedly only 6 days after the tweet that spilled the beans and forum follow up. No reason given for shut down...funny that!! Must be coincidence:-) Comments on Velo News also now disabled on or around same date!!
The race of Tour de France 2013 is not yet over and yet the route whispers for 2014 carry with the wind.
We already know it starts in England. It is predicted to start in Dunkirk on the French side, travel through Belgium, I predict Luxembourg as the Caravan pass this year would suggest (Yorkshire, Corsica and Luxembourg well represented), a return to Belle Filles from 2012 (I loved that stage), Digne les Bains to Rissoul means the Alps first, then the Pyrenees through the usual suspect (I expect the massif centrale, not the coast). With the dates tight from starting in England a Bordeaux penultimate stage (maybe from the right bank) and transfer would make sense...we will see very soon.
We arrived at Tour de France 2013 on the first rest day, catching our flight from Brisbane a few hours after running Gold Coast Half Marathon. It was our first time arriving at Terminal 1 Paris CDG but the drill was just the same. We caught the driverless train shuttle to near the Tourist Temporaire car leasing depot and collected our brand spanking new Citroen C3 Picasso (2008 was Renault Megane wagon, 2009,10,11,12 was Renault Kangoo, Citroen $500 cheaper this year).
The drive to Saint Malo was effortless on the paid toll roads. I had pre-planned a Decathlon store, a supermarket and a McDonalds for internet connection on the outskirts of Saint Malo. I had also pre-planned a visit to the beach at Rotheneuf and a hopeful place to park the car for the night 3.6km from the finish on course and across the road from a different beach. How good is google maps?
Next day the tour came to Saint Malo. We ran into town and back and strolled everywhere. We watched the caravan pass and finish from near the car.
After the race we drove to Avranches and then along the race route for the following day time trial individual until we found somewhere that ticked some boxes at Courtils. The boxes 1. nice place to run, 2. Tourist park across the road (sneaking toilet and showers), 3. Close to paid toll road to escape to destination Fougeres
Arriving in Fougeres we found a Camping Municipal, not that far from the Formule 1 we stayed at in 2008, our first night ever in France on tour. By accident the following day we did Depart (Start), on course (route barrier) and then Arrivee (Finish) at Tours...a huge day but not over yet. We then drove 70% of the way on minor roads to near Issoudun and stayed in a roadside rest stop. I was aiming for a different stop but we were on the wrong road...we found it the next morning on the way to the Saint Amand Montrond finish. Our car park was in a supermarket store 3km from the paid toll road and a similar distance to the finish. After the finish we were quickly onto the road again and headed for Mont Ventoux. We found a roadside rest stop on dusk having complete 70% of the journey again.
Before dawn the next morning we were on the road again with much traffic...almost everyone had left Paris the evening before (the first day of school holidays) and were headed for Montpellier, Marseilles, Mediteranean...not us. We arrived at Mont Ventoux base, checked for tv coverage and parked the Citroen. Within minutes we ran to the summit of Mont Ventoux and back again spotting deer along the way in the forest. We watched the stage from Saint Pourcain sur Souile in car on the tv.
Before noon the next day we ran to the summit of Mont Ventoux again, took in the vibe of the stage finish and returned to base camp again to watch the race on tv. We spent the evening with an Irish couple (Louise and Glen) and their couple of dogs (Jet and Jessie).
Early next morning we were on our way to Albertville. This will be our base for the next 5 nights staying in the same Ibis Budget hotel we have stayed in during the last 6 TDF 2008-2013.
Nothing has changed since my last post except the Armstrong affair. Bruyneel and Padua affairs to follow quite soon. More dopage sadly.
The exact route I described in that last post remains true. Would hope to see 10 stages of the tour followed by a holiday in the sun...Annecy would do me fine. Will begin the journey with Gold Coast Half Marathon. That makes following the TDF much easier as I will be in recovery mode. All the stages look very easy to follow and I have been to almost all the destinations. A stress free journey? I have never seen a stage up Mont Ventoux although I spent 3 nights there in 2011, just below the summit. That is a must do.
All flights are booked, the Kangoo will be booked in 4 weeks...nothing to do but dream in French.
Route of the 2013 Tour de France:
June 29, stage 1: Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, 212km
June 30, stage 2: Bastia to Ajaccio, 154km
July 1st, stage 3: Ajaccio to Calvi, 145km
July 2nd, stage 4: Nice to Nice, TTT, 25km
July 3, stage 5: Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille, 219km
July 4, stage 6: Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, 176km
July 5, stage 7: Montpellier to Albi, 205km
July 6, stage 8: Castres to Ax-3 domaines, 194km
July 7, stage 9: Saint-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 165km
July 8: Rest day in Saint-Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique
July 9, stage 10: St-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo, 193km
July 10, stage 11: Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel, ITT, 33km
July 11, stage 12: Fougères to Tours, 218km
July 12, stage 13: Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond, 173km
July 13, stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, 191km
July 14, stage 15: Givors to Mont Ventoux, 242km
July 15: Rest day in the Vaucluse province (Avignon, Orange)
July 16, stage 16: Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap, 168km
July 17, stage 17: Embrun to Chorges, ITT, 32km
July 18, stage 18: Gap to l’Alpe d’Huez, 168km
July 19, stage 19: Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand Bornand, 204km
July 20, stage 20: Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz, 125km
July 21, stage 21: Versailles to Paris/Champs-Elysées, 118km
There is enough rumour information out there to book flights to Tour de France 2013. So accurate have been the information on http://www.velowire.com/article/657/fr/tour-de-france-2013---les-rumeurs-sur-le-parcours-et-les-etapes--.html in previous years I feel very confident.
The story will go like this:
Watch the first week on the tv in OZ
Canberra to Gold Coast Half Marathon
Brisbane to Paris to near Saint Malo from Nantes after first rest day