A guide to the Tour de France
Stage 13 of the Tour de France 2018 is 169.5km from Bourg d'Oisans to Valence. After three days in the Alps, it should be an opportunity for the GC favourites to switch off, with just a Category 3 and Category 4 climb to negotiate. It's the only chance the sprinters will have for glory in the second week. Read about Stage 13 of the Tour de France 2018 here.
The intensity was lower today. Peter Sagan won the sprint in Valence. See video highlights of Stage 13:
Read the Hedgehog Stage 13 diary.
|Climbs||Côte de Brié (Category 3)
Côte de Sainte-Eualie-en-Royans (Category 4)
This is the official map of Stage 13.
The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 13:
Profile of Stage 13, Tour de France 2018, © ASO/Tour de France
Friday 20th July 2018.
The publicity caravan sets off from Bourg-d'Oisans at 1135, and the peloton at 1335. The projected average speeds are 43, 45, and 47kmh, and depending on which is the most accurate, the riders are expected at the finish line in Valence between 1721 and 1741.
Mark Cavendish looks forward to the Tour de France for the BBC, and names his 'one to watch' - his prediction for the stage win.
'A bit of respite from the mountains, and it will be a sprint day if we have managed to get through the day before. It's a transition day, and at 170km, shouldn't be too bade, but sometimes down in that part of France the winds can pick up. We ca get mistral winds, and that can turn it from a recovery day into one of the hardest days of the Tour de France.
But if there is a bunch sprint, we're into town with about 5km to go. There are a lot of corners to the last kilometre, and then a nice boulevard finish. We do have a roundabout with a few hundred metres to go, but if you're near the front, you should get through that quite safely to start your sprint.'
His one to watch? Fernando Gaviria.
The stage starts in Bourg d'Oisans. The riders leave town heading north on the D1091. The départ réel, where the racing starts, is a short distance from Bourg d'Oisans, just after the junction with the D526.
The D1091 follows the Romanche river down the valley. It passes through the villages of Livet, Rioupéroux, and Gavet. (The villages here had a lot of heavy industry in the C20th, with paper and steel production, and hydro-electric power; the Resistance (le maquis de l'Oisans) was active in the Romanche valley during World War II, and there's a monument to the fallen in Livet).
The stage reaches Vizille, a town with a fine C17th château which has hosted several French Presidents. The château is set in extensive grounds.
There's a climb out of Vizille, the Côte de Brié: Category 3, 2.4km at 6.9%, reaching a height of 450m at the top. Then the riders descend via Brié-et-Angonnes and Eybens to Grenoble.
Grenoble is a major city, so significant crowds might be expected as the race heads past the Parc Paul Mistral, and continues towards the confluence of the Isère and the Drac. The cable car up to the Bastille fort on the hill is likely to be featured on TV.
Next, there's a long, flat section along the Isère valley, with the Vercors to the left and the Chartreuse to the right. One of the first towns after Grenoble is Sassenage, known for its C17th château, its caves (les Cuves de Sassenage, which are one of the Seven Marvels of the Dauphiné), and its Vercors-Sassenage blue cheese.
After rounding a bend in the river, the riders come to Saint-Quentin-sur-Isère, where the day's intermediate sprint takes place. There are walnut trees here, producing Grenoble walnuts, which have their own Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée.
At Beauvoir-en-Royans (which has the ruins of a C13th castle, the former residence of the Dauphins before the Dauphiné was sold to France), the race route veers away from the river towards Pont-en-Royans, on the D518.
At Pont-en-Royans, the stage route crosses la Bourne, then leaves the Isère département and enters the Drôme. The road climbs to Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans, and this is the second and final categorised ascent on the stage. It is Category 4, 1.5km at 4.9%, and topping out at 298m.
A descent follows, via Saint-Thomas-en-Royans and la Motte-Fanjas, to Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans (back on the river Isère).
(Having seen the names of all these villages, you might be wondering 'what is this Royans business?' Royans is the traditional name for the small area here between the Isère river and the Vercors plateau. The name Royans derives from the Celtic god Rudian. It's a sunny area, and protected from some winds by the Vercors. The forests have provided economic activity in the past, with saw mills, and the gorges and cliffs attract tourists and climbers today.
Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans has some of the main attractions of Royans country. The aqueduct in Saint-Nazaire was built in 1876 to carry the Bourne canal. It was renovated in 1999 and turned into a pedestrian bridge. La Grotte de Thaïs is a cave that can be visited; and you can take a trip on the river in a paddle steamer).
The road rises after Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans, as it leaves the river. The riders pass through villages including Rochefort-Samson, where according to Valence-Romans Tourisme, there's to be a Poulidor Exhibition at the time of Stage 13.
Charpey and Peyrus are on the race route, which also passes through the outskirts of Chabeuil. The riders are heading west now, and when they cross the N7, they are approaching the centre of Valence.
The finish of the stage is in Valence, in the Rhône valley. After arriving in Valence on the avenue de Chabeuil, the peloton takes boulevard F D Roosevelt, rue Faventines, rue des Alpes, avenue Félix Faure, and avenue de Romans. The finish line is on avenue de Romans, near the Stade Pompidou. Valence Romans Tourisme has produced this map:
There's to be entertainment all day at the Fontaine Monumentale, as well as a big screen showing the race. A fresque humaine will be organised at the Stade Pompidou, which I would say is one of those dance performances/works of art that look good when filmed from a helicopter above. In the evening, Louane and Amir will perform a concert.
We'll know more about the form of the sprinters as the Tour progresses; it's also possible that one or two will have abandoned by the time Stage 13 comes around, whether due to crashes or tough days in the Alps. André Greipel could be a good bet to be still in the race, and determined and persistent enough to win today.
Stage 14 of the Tour de France 2018 is 187km from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Mende.
Read about Stage 14 of the 2018 Tour de France.
Bourg d'Oisans is a town at the foot of the road up to Alpe d'Huez, on the Romanche river. Because of this location, it has often featured in the Tour de France.
Vizille is a town in the Romanche valley, and the département of the Isère. It's on the route Napoléon, and close to the ski resort of Chamrousse.
Vizille was a fortified settlement (oppidum) in the pre-Roman period, then a Roman military camp or Castra Vigiliae. The Roman name mutated into Vizille.
The Château de Vizille was built for François de Bonne, Duke of Lesdiguières, between 1600 and 1619. In the C18th, it was owned by industrialist Claude Perier, who installed a textile factory in it. Several Presidents stayed there when it was the property of the state, including Charles de Gaulle. It is now owned by the Isère département, and houses a museum dedicated to the French Revolution.
The Château has substantial grounds that were the private hunting grounds of the Duke. They have lawns, a canal, a wooded area, a rose garden, and an animal park.
Grenoble is a city at the confluence of the Isere and the Drac. It is the capital of the Isère département. Its population is around 160,000, and the population of the greater urban area is 660,000.
There was a village called Cularo here in pre-Roman times, occupied by the Allobroges. The Romans renamed the settlement Gratianopolis, after the Emporer Gratian visited. That name gradually changed over the centuries to become Grenoble.
In the C11th, Grenoble became capital of the Dauphiné, under the local counts who ruled lands here. The University of Grenoble was founded in 1339. Ten years later, the Dauphiné was sold to the French King, and one of the conditions was that the heir to the French throne should take the title Dauphin.
The construction of the present Bastille fort was begun in the late 1500s under lieutenant-general Lesdiguières (also responsible for the château at Vizille).
From the C18th, industry developed here, including glove-making, and later hydro-electric power. Today Grenoble is known for biotechnology and nanotechnology industries
Grenoble was the main centre for the 1968 Winter Olympics. It is surrounded by mountains: it has the Chartreuse to the north, the Vercors to the south and west, and the Belledonne to the east. It is sometimes called 'the capital of the Alps'.
The Bastille fort is one of the main attractions of Grenoble, and you can go up there by cable car.
Grenoble is twinned with many cities including Innsbruck (Austria), Oxford (UK), and Phoenix (USA).
The Vercors takes its name from the first known inhabitants here, the Vertacomicori, a Celtic people.
It is a Regional Natural Park, created in 1970, and covering an area of 432,000 hectares. It is a high, limestone plateau, covered with beech and conifer forests, and dissected by deep river gorges. It's form makes it a natural fortress, which enabled the Vertacomicori to live free of Roman domination.
Chamois in the Alps
There are over 1,800 plant species, and the six species of wild hoofed animals found in France (chamois, red deer, roe deer, wild boars, moufflons, and ibexes). Birds of prey here include golden eagles, peregrine falcons, Bonelli's eagles, and vultures.
Bears (European brown) were last seen in the French Alps near Saint-Martin-en-Vercors in 1937, since when they have disappeared, largely due to hunting by man. Bears are ominivores that search for food in remote and steep wooded areas. The Haut Vercors is deserted in winter, and would provide a perfect habitat for bears if they were re-introduced.
There are five nature trails in the Vercors, and it is a paradise for cross-country skiers. It's also one of the top places for potholing in France.
Pont-en-Royans sits on the river Bourne, which divides the Vercors in two: the Montagne de Lans to the north, which is more developed, and the 'real' Vercors to the south, which is densely forested and quite isolated.
The Vercors is known as a stronghold of the Resistance during World War II. It is a natural fortress, to which access can be controlled. From 1942, several Resistance camps were established. Pierre Dalloz devised the plans Montagnards, an idea for establishing an Allied bridgehead in the Vercors: 'There is a sort of island on terra firma, meadows protected by a wall of China. There are few access routes, and they are narrow and rocky. One could bar them, assemble batallions of parachutists on the plateau, then the Vercors could fall on the enemy's rear.'
The plan was partly implemented. The BBC broadcast the message le chamois des Alpes bondit, which was the signal for the Resistance to seal off the Vercors. They did so on 9th June 1944. The Allies dropped armaments to the Resistance, but not troops.
On 3rd July, the Vercors Republic was proclaimed. On 21st July 1944, 15,000 German Alpine troops, plus Commandos and SS soldiers, engaged in fighting with the Resistance. After two days of fierce exchanges, the Resistance was defeated, and the survivors dispersed. The German troops massacred civilians and carried out summary executions in local villages. The reprisals continued for weeks.
Valence is the capital of the Drôme département, with a population of about 62,000. It is on the river Rhône close to its confluence with the Isère, and it is known as the gateway to the south of France. It has a TGV station on the line to Marseille.
Valence was founded after the invasion of the Romans in 121BC, perhaps initially as a military camp, and it became a Roman colony. The Romans called it Valentia Julia, valentia meaning 'strength' in Latin, and Julia referring to Julius Caesar. There was a circus and an amphitheatre in Roman times.
In the 1400s, Valence became part of the Dauphiné region of France. The University of Valence was founded in 1452. Traditionally, it has good engineering schools and an excellent law faculty. Some grand buildings such as the Maison des Têtes were constructed around this time.
Napoléon Bonaparte was garrisoned here for a year in 1785, when he was a 16-year-old artillery man.
Today, Valence's economy is based on food processing, electronics, aerospace, film and animation studios, logistics (rail, road, and river), engineering, and banking.
The most interesting buildings are in Vieux Valence. They include theC17th Romanesque Cathédrale Saint-Appollinaire, the Maison des Têtes (a Renaissance town house), and a Renaissance funerary monument called le Pendentif.
On the far bank of the Rhône are the ruins of the C12th Château de Crussol.
Valence is twinned with Clacton-on-Sea (UK).
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