Posted by: Jennifer Sage | July 24, 2008

Stage 17, the Galibier and Alpe d’Huez

Last year I took a group to the Tour in the Alpes and we climbed the Galibier (the same direction they rode up this year, which was opposite from the route last year). I had forgotten about it until yesterday, but we were photographed by Pez Cycling news and one of the photos appeared in their daily journal of the Tour. Scroll down to the 4th photo!

Yesterday’s stage was pretty exciting. I get Chris Carmichael’s daily wrap ups of each stage, which are very informative.

As I watched, I wondered where I would have preferred to have been to view it. Even though the Galibier is such a fantastic place to ride to view the stage, and there’s lots of places to view along the climb, I don’t think I would have gone there because it was so early in the stage and the peleton would have been so close together (as previously suggested in another post). 

The lure of L’Alpe d’Huez is pretty strong, but if you want to view a stage like this, you better have plans on how to get out of there. (Obviously, the stage is over, so this info is something you can store away for next year). My preference would have been to be somewhere on the Col de la Croix de Fer instead of Alpe d’Huez. On the latter, everyone – cars, cyclists, walkers, drunks – all have only one way to leave, and that’s down the 21 switchbacks (well, there are a few other options, but they aren’t used much – I have a way out which is my “secret weapon” on the ADH!). And they all want to leave at once, making a human and vehicle slolom course with your brakes on full-power the entire twisting way. 

But if you were to be on the Alpe…go very early and try to get on a switchback. Of course, I am assuming you are riding your bike! Ride to the top, enjoy the ascent surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people cheering you on, and then ride back down to that special spot you saw on the ride up, being cognizant of those who have been there for a week or more. And as soon as the road is open at the end of the stage,get out of there! Actually, you won’t have an announcement that the road is “open” – but after the final motorcycles and police cars and the voiture balai has gone by, jump on your bike. You can get the updates on the Tour when you return to your hotel. Some of this is repeat info from previous posts, but it’s even more important on a hill like ADH.

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