Stage 20 of the Tour de France 2019 is 131km from Albertville to Val Thorens. This Alpine stage tackles the Cormet de Roselend, the Côte de Longefoy, then takes the old road via Saint-Laurent-de-la-Côte on the way up to the highest ski resort in Europe, Val Thorens.
Map of Stage 20, Tour de France 2019, © ASO/Tour de France
|Date||Saturday 27th July 2019|
|Climbs||Cormet de Roselend
Côte de Longefoy
Montée de Val Thorens
The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 20:
Timings to follow.
Stage 20 of the 2019 Tour de France starts in Albertville.
The climb to Val Thorens starts up the old road via Saint-Laurent-de-la-Côte
Paul Moucheraud is a former professional cyclist from Val Thorens. He's now a director of the Ecole du Ski Francais in Val Thorens. I chatted to him about Stage 20, and his memories of the last time the Tour came to Val Thorens in 1994.
How do you see the stage playing out?
It's only a short stage, at 131km. As soon as the climbing starts at Beaufort, the field could split, with a group including the GC favourites forging ahead up to the Cormet de Roselend. It'll be hard for anyone to come back. There's a flat section between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Mâcot, but I doubt it's long enough for a team to organise themselves and work together to bring back a leading group.
After Mâcot comes the Cote de Longefoy. It's not a climb I know. The map shows that the road continues to rise after Longefoy, to 1,311m at Notre-Dame-du-Pré. The descent from there looks technical, with lots of hairpins - some of them steep - as the road goes down through woods. If it rains, it will be treacherous.
After a stretch on the main road (N90/D915), the final climb begins on the D96 via Saint-Laurent-de-la-Côte. What is it like?
The hardest part comes quite early on. There are three steep hairpins before la Côte-Derrière. If it's down to a small group of favourites, that's where the battle is likely to take place.
After la Côte-Derriere, the climb is quite steady through Saint-Laurent. When the riders reach the hamlet of Planvillard, it's flat or downhill until they get to the junction with the main road up the Belleville Valley, the D117.
The route goes through the village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, then it's a steady climb to Les Menuires. There's a short descent the far side of Les Menuires before the final stretch to Val Thorens.
Will the altitude play a role near Val Thorens (with the finish line at 2,365m)?
Yes and no. It can have an effect, but the competitors all know about it in advance, and train for it at high-altitude camps.
The finish line is to be just beyond Val Thorens. The riders go through the resort, then head up the Combe du Thorens, which is a ski piste in winter. They cross the line just short of the Chalets du Thorens.
What do you remember of the Tour de France last time it came to Val Thorens in 1994?
I was 14 years old. With Val Thorens Ski Club, I was part of the publicity caravan, throwing out leaflets promoting Val Thorens.
Miguel Indurain was my idol at the time. He was leading the Tour de France that day, and went on to win it. Unfortunately, the fog came down at the finish, but I saw all the riders cross the line, including Luc Leblanc.
I remember my dad [professional cyclist Maurice Moucheraud] being on TV, appearing on a programme called Vélo Club, with Gérard Holtz.
Who do you think could be the stage winner?
Romain Bardet, of course!
Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2019.
Read about Stage 5 of the 2019 Tour de France.
Albertville is a town on the river Arly, near its confluence with the river Isère. It is surrounded by mountains - the Bauges to the west, the Beaufortain to the north, and the Chaine de la Lauzière to the south.
Albertville was on the Roman route from Milan to Vienna (which crossed the Alps via the Col du Petit St-Bernard). Because of the confluence of the Arly and the Isère, the Romans called the higher part of the town ad confluentes. (This part of Albertville is called Conflans today). There was a customs post lower down, referred to as ad publicanos.
At the end of the C12th, the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem founded a hospital for travellers and pilgrims down near the river, and the village which developed around it was called l'Hopital.
Saracen Tower, Conflans, by HedgehogCycling
Modern Albertville was formed in 1836 by King Charles Albert of Sardinia (of the House of Savoie). He merged the medieval town of Conflans with the town of l'Hopital.
Albertville's economy is largely industrial, with hydroelectricity and paper mills. Kassbohrer, who make piste bashers, have premises here.
Albertville Olympic ice rink, by HedgehogCycling
Albertville hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics. Many of the events took place in nearby ski resorts, including Le Praz (ski jumping), Val d'Isère (men's giant slalom, Super G, downhill, and combined), Méribel (women's Alpine skiing events), and Les Menuires (men's slalom). The skating took place in Albertville: the ice rink (Halle de Glace Olympique) remains; the speed skating venue (l'anneau de vitesse) has been given over to athletics.
There's a cycle path most of the way from Albertville to Annecy.
Beaufort, or Beaufort-sur-Doron, is a village in the Beaufortain area of Savoie. It's close to the winter and summer resort of Arêches-Beaufort.
Other than tourism, the main occupation is agriculture. The village of Beaufort gives its name to Beaufort cheese (a firm, raw cow's milk cheese similar to gruyère.
Bourg-Saint-Maurice (public domain)
Bourg-Saint-Maurice is a town in the Tarentaise valley, on the river Isère.
It is surrounded by ski resorts, and there's a funicular railway link to Arc 1600, part of Les Arcs. Bourg-Saint-Maurice is also popular in the summer as a base for walking, mountain biking, and road cycling. There's a whitewater canoe and kayak slalom course on the Isère at Bourg, used for training and competitions.
Moûtiers is a modest-sized town at a bend in the river Isère, roughly half-way between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Albertville. It serves as a hub for the ski resorts of the 3 Vallées (Courchevel, Méribel, and Les Menuires/Val Thorens).
The settlement here was called Darantasia in the Gallo-Roman period. The name Moûtiers comes from 'monastery'.
There's a small historic centre near the Cathedral Saint-Pierre.