A guide to the Tour de France
A guide to Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2017, which is 222.5km from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence. This is the longest stage of the race. There are three Category 3 climbs in it, but it's classified flat, and should see a win for a member of a breakaway, or a sprinter. Read about Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2017 here.
21st July 2017
After two near misses, many cycling fans will be delighted that Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) finally got a first place on the 2017 Tour. Bravo!
Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2017 starts in Embrun, and makes its way through lumpy terrain out of the Hautes-Alpes and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence towards Provence - specifically the Vaucluse and the Bouches-du-Rhône. This day seems to be partly about getting the race closer to Marseille for the Stage 20 time trial. It's also The Law that there must be one day for the photographers to take pictures of the riders going through fields of lavender; the high, dry plateaus of Stage 19 are perfect for lavender.
|Climbs||Col Lebraut (Category 3)
Côte de Bréziers (Category 3)
Col du Pointu (Category 3)
This is the official map of Stage 19.
The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 19:
Profile of Stage 19, Tour de France 2017, © ASO/Tour de France
Stage 19 takes place on Friday 21st July 2017.
The publicity caravan leaves the start line at 10h15, and reaches the finish at 16h03. The départ fictif for the riders in Embrun is at 12h15, the départ réel at 12h30, and the arrival time in Salon-de-Provence is between 17h33 and 18h03.
The stage starts in Embrun. On the neutralised section, it heads out of town east on the D994, to cross the river Durance at Pont-Neuf. The route then curves round on the D340/D40, to come back to the Durance where it meets the Lac de Serre-Ponçon. The flag goes down and the racing starts in a suburb called Petit Liou, near the D40/N94 junction. Stage 19 then repeats a small portion of Stage 18, by taking the N94 along the lake to Savines-le-Lac.
Stage 19 crosses over the Lac de Serre-Ponçon from Savines-le-Lac. The road edges along the far shore for a short way, passing close to the Chapelle Saint-Michel.
Saint-Michel chapel, Lac de Serre-Ponçon - saved from flooding when the lake was created because it was built on a little hill, it is now on an island in the lake. Photo by Flaurentine, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0
At the village of Chorges - an historic place, which was a civitas in the Roman period - the riders turn left on the D3 and head up to the Col Lebraut (1,110m). This is the first categorised climb of the day - Category 3. There are 4.7km of climbing at an average of 6%.
There's a descent to a belvedere or viewpoint near the Barrage de Serre-Ponçon, where the Durance runs out of the lake. The race continues alongside the Durance on the D3 to Espinasses, takes the D900B for a short distance, then crosses the river on the pont de Rochebrune/D951. Now there is another Category 3 climb, the Côte de Bréziers, which is 2.3km at an average of 5.8%, up to 842m. After a short downhill, the road climbs again via Gigors to the Col de Sarraut (980m).
The race now stays on the D951. Between the Col de Sarraut and Sisteron, there's a height loss of 501m over a distance of about 35km. The road runs by the river Sasse, and passes via Faucon-du-Caire, le Caire, la Motte-du-Caire, Nibles, and Plan-de-la-Baume, before reaching Sisteron.
From Sisteron (479m), Stage 19 is on the D951, with the Montagne de Lure to the right. Sheep graze here, and there's lavender and olives. Bories - dry stone-built shelters, roughly in an igloo or beehive shape - dot the landscape.
The route goes through Peipin, Châteauneuf-Val-Saint-Donat, Mallefougasse, Cruis, and Saint-Etienne-les Orgues (712m), to Banon. The intermediate sprint is at Banon.
Profile of the intermediate sprint at Banon, © ASO/Tour de France
Beyond Banon, Stage 19 takes the D51 broadly downhill to Simiane-la-Rotonde, on the plateau des Monts de Vaucluse. (The name 'rotonde' comes from the dodecagonal building which is part of the C12th château at Simiane).
Around Gignac and Rustrel, the landscape is known as 'le Colorado Provençal', since a drunk, short-sighted person noticed the striking resemblance to Colorado in America. The race continues to descend to Apt.
From Apt, the riders head towards the Montagne du Lubéron, and specifically the Col du Pointu (499m). This is the third and final Category 3 climb of the day, 5.8km of climbing at an average of 4.1%.
From le Pointu, there's a descent through the Combe de Lourmarin to the village of Lourmarin, where the race route veers right to Puyvert and Lauris. At Lauris, the riders join the D973, which runs west alongside the Durance. It could be windy here.
Just after Mérindol, there's a left turn, which takes Stage 19 over the Durance near Mallemort; it then follows the D23/D17 by the Canal EDF as far as Lamanon. Here, still by the canal, the riders join the D538, which goes south to the finish at Salon-de-Provence.
Stage 19 could be won by a breakaway, or by a sprinter. Riders with a chance of winning from a breakaway include Greg van Avermaet, Thomas de Gendt, Michael Matthews, and Steve Cummings. If it comes down to a sprint, Michael Matthews has a good chance, as do any other sprinters still present - maybe André Greipel.
I'll say that the winner will come from a breakaway, and that it will be a rider in his last season, saying adieu to the Tour de France: Thomas Voeckler of Direct Energie.
Stage 20 of the Tour de France 2017 is a 22.5km time trail in Marseille. This will be the last chance for the contenders to change the GC standings.
Read about Stage 20 of the 2017 Tour de France.
Embrun is a town in the Hautes-Alpes, at the northern end of the Lac de Serre-Ponçon. The name is a shortening of Eburodunum, meaning 'fortress where yew trees grow'.
There was a Celtic oppidum here, which became a Gallo-Roman settlement after the Roman conquest. In the Middle Ages, it was part of the county of Provence, then the Dauphiné. It became part of France in 1349, with the rest of the Dauphiné.
Embrun grew in the late 1950s, when a large number of workers were required for the creation of the artificial lake of Serre-Ponçon.
Agriculture here is concentrated on sheep (Sisteron lamb), wine under the Hautes-Alpes label, and apples.
Embrun (France) is twinned with Embrun (Canada).
The lac de Serre-Ponçon is an artificial lake, which was created by damming the river Durance, in the late 1950s (project finished 1961).
It is designed to prevent flooding which used to happen when the Durance burst its banks, and to produce hydro-electric power. It's also used for leisure activities.
Sisteron is a town in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence departement, and on the river Durance. On the other side of the river are the striking near-vertical strata of the rocks on the Montagne de la Baume.
The name probably derives from Gallic roots, and means 'fort on the height'.
Sisteron was inhabited before the Romans, and had some importance in Roman times: they built a bridge over the Durance here, and a fort or citadelle which was remodelled many times over the years up until the C18th. Sisteron was a stage on the Roman Via Domitia, which arrived from Italy over the Col de Montgenèvre, and continued through southern France to Spain.
In World War II, the citadelle was used as a prison by the Vichy régime to detain 'undesirables'. In August 1944, the US Air Force sought to bomb the bridge over the Durance, but also badly damaged the citadelle, and a lot of the town, killing more than 100 people.
These days, a festival of outdoor theatre takes place at the citadelle, les Nuits de la Citadelle.
There are other historic buildings in Sisteron, including the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Pommiers.
Apt is the main town of the Lubéron, on the river Calavon, and in the Vaucluse département.
Apt was home to a Gallic tribe before the Romans. Julius Caesar destroyed it, then rebuilt it as Apta Julia. In the Middle Ages, the town's fortifications were restored by the Counts of Provence. The walls have mainly been taken down and replaced with boulevards.
One of the sights of Apt is the church of Sainte-Anne, built over many centuries from 1056. It was formerly a Cathedral, when Apt had a bishop.
Apt is a centre for wine, honey, truffles, and fruit. Crystallised fruit is made locally.
The Lubéron is a mountainous part of Provence, which is a Regional Natural Park. Most of it is wooded, but there are high pastures where sheep are grazed. The north-facing slopes of the Montagne du Lubéron are more Alpine in character, and the south-facing side is more Mediterrean, covered in garrigue, with rosemary and other Provençal herbs; it has vineyards and fruit trees on the lower slopes.
The highest peak is the Mourre Nègre, 1,125m.
There are bories here - dry stone shelters made with limestone. They may originally have been shepherds' huts, but often they are used for storage, for example as wine cellars.
The wine produced here is sold under the Côtes du Lubéron label. Most of the vines were planted during World War I, to provide each soldier with his ration of a litre of wine a day.
Villages perchés are to be found here - villages built on rocky outcrops, usually around a well, a castle, and a church. They date from the Middle Ages, when there were many invasions, for example by the Saracens, and people were safer on high ground and within defensive walls.
There are seven varieties of snake, and birds of prey - owls, and eagles, including Bonelli's eagle.
The Lubéron was made famous in Britain by Peter Mayle's book A Year in Provence, which had accounts of Mayle's life in the village of Ménerbes. He wrote further autobiographical accounts of his time in Provence, and a novel, A Good Year, which was turned into a film.
Salon-de-Provence is a town in the Bouches-du-Rhône département of France, in Provence.
There was an oppidum settlement here before the Romans.
Nostradamus (Michel de Notredame) lived here in his later years, and is buried here. His house is maintained as a museum.
The historic centre of Salon-de-Provence is within town walls, and the town is entered through the Porte de l'Horloge and the Porte Bourg Neuf.
Salon-de-Provence air base hosts the French air force, in particular the Patrouille de France display team (the French equivalent of the British red arrows).
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