SHARE
COPY LINK

TOUR DE FRANCE

Tour de France 2013: Corsica holds its breath

The waiting and the hype is over. The 2013 Tour de France, the 100th edition of the worldโ€™s most famous cycle race will start in Corsica on Saturday where authorities are crossing their fingers that everything goes to plan.

Tour de France 2013: Corsica holds its breath
France's Thomas Voeckler rides on a pontoon on his way for the team presentation ceremony on June 27, 2013 in Porto-Vecchio. Photo:Joel Saget/AFP

All eyes will be on the little town of Porto-Vecchio at the southern tip of Mediterranean the island of Corsica on Saturday as it hosts the eagerly awaited Grand Depart of the 2013 Tour de France.

Almost unbelievably given the fact it is the 100Th Tour de France, this year will be the first time that Corsica has ever welcomed the famous peloton.

And as if to make up for lost time the 'Island of Beauty' as it is known is to host the first three stages of this year’s race.

After threats of strikes by ferry workers and fears that Corsica’s notoriously violent underworld might tarnish the island’s big moment the region’s leading politician Paul Giacobbi, who heads the executive council told The Local on Friday, all he can now is hope for the best.

“I’m happy but also a little bit worried because it’s a sort of difficult time before the start. In terms of organisation we hope that everything will be perfect and we are just crossing our fingers,” Giacobbi said. “So far everything has gone fine”.

Corsica’s natural beauty has never been in doubt but an uglier side of life on the island, which has seen dozens of gangland murders in recent years, has stained its image.

Stage three in particular which will hug the spectacular mountainous coastline on the west of the island should be enough to have TV viewers ringing travel agents to book their tickets to Corsica.

Giacobbi says the next three days will go a long way to change people’s impression of the Island.

“It’s a question of our image. We are obviously fed up by the violence. But it is the criminals who are involved in this, not the normal population. We want to demonstrate this to the world.

“We are used to lots of media being here because of the crime but this time it is for a great event.”

The three stages from Port Vecchio to Bastia, Bastia to Ajaccio and finally from Ajaccio to Calvi are designed to showcase the beauty of the island.

Stage three in particular which will hug the spectacular mountainous coastline on the west of the island should be enough to have TV viewers ringing travel agents to book their tickets to Corsica.

And Giacobbi believes the global media coverage given to the race will finally put Corsica on the map, or at least in the right place on the map.

“All over the world people know the name Corsica but they don’t know where it is, they don’t know even that it’s an island.

“Over the next three days they will find out and they will see how beautiful and impressive the island is.”

Corsica is not the only reason the 2013 Tour de France promises to memorable. Organisers have designed the route to show off the France’s ‘national treasures’ with no less than 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites along the way.

CLICK HERE to see the Ten most iconic sites on the Tour de France route

Some of the Tour’s most legendary mountain climbs will also make an appearance in the 2013 race, most notably the almost mythical Mont Ventoux and the 21 hair bends of the climb up to the Alpe d'Huez. It will all come to a thrilling at dusk on the Champs-Elysées in the City of Light on July 21.

“It is only right that the 100th edition of the race includes some of the mythical spots that have become part of the race’s history,” two time winner Bernard told The Local this week.

The build up to the start of the race has been overshadowed once again by talk of drugs with French cycling legend Laurent Jalabert was forced to step down as a television and radio pundit for the the Tour de France because of doping revelations.

He was accused in a newspaper report on Monday of having taken the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) during the 1998 Tour.

And US drug cheat Lance Armstrong provoked anger on Friday when he said it was impossible to win the race without doping.

After all the talk of violent criminals and drugs cheats both Corsica and the Tour de France could do with a boost in image over the coming days and weeks.

And as for who will win? Well Thevenet says there is a reason why Britain's Chris Froome is the favourite.

"He's the strongest rider in the strongest team. He will be hard to beat."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SPORT

Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

MAP: Details of 2022 Tour de France (and Denmark) revealed

Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.

SHOW COMMENTS