• France's news in English
Tour de France stage 18: Alpe d'Huez awaits
One of the hairpin bends on the mythical Alpe d'Huez. Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP

Tour de France stage 18: Alpe d'Huez awaits

AFP/The Local · 18 Jul 2013, 08:31

Published: 18 Jul 2013 08:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


With two climbs of the mighty Alpe d'Huez in store, Thursday's 18th stage of the Tour de France has all the makings of an epic, as long as the weather is not too unkind.

The 172.5-kilometre ride from Gap north to the finish 1,850 metres up is the Queen stage of this year's Tour, with three category-two climbs lying in wait as well as the double ascent of what is one of the most famous mountains in the history of the race.

The first climb starts in Bourg d'Oisans and takes the peloton all the way up the 21 bends of the road to the summit, each one with a plaque containing the name of a former stage winner on the mountain.

However, instead of going all the way to the top, the riders will turn off early for a short descent before taking on a climb that has never featured in the Tour before, the category two Col de Sarenne.

Its summit is at just under 2,000 metres, but it is the hair-raising downhill section rather than the climb here which will have kept riders awake on Wednesday night.

As long as they survive that, they will go all the way up the Alpe this time, all 13.8km at an average gradient of 8.1 percent.

All of this will be played out to a backdrop of hundreds of thousands of fans who will line the road up the mountain, including huge numbers of Dutch, who always flock here when the Tour passes, thanks in large part to the country's proud tradition of success on the climb.

Three riders from the Netherlands have won on L'Alpe d'Huez twice, including Joop Zoetemelk, the last Dutchman to win the yellow jersey back in 1980.

On this occasion the Tour is Chris Froome's to lose, and he will be dreaming of recording a fourth stage win so far, while Alberto Contador tries desperately to close the gap.

Story continues below…

However, race organisers will be desperately hoping that the weather does not put a spanner in the works - storms are forecast throughout the day in the French Alps and there have been rumours that the second climb of the Alpe may have to be cancelled.

(See a video review of the stage courtesy of Global Cycling Network)

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available