On the Highway: The Tour de France

This summer time the world’s most well-known cycle race pedals off from Dusseldorf on 1 July. For the following three weeks, elite cyclists will compete stage by stage as they loop round Germany, Belgium, and France. Glory awaits whoever crosses the ending line first in Paris on 23 July. All those that come behind can a minimum of say they accomplished the gruelling 104th Tour de France.

The Tour de France itself is open solely to skilled cyclists, however that’s to not say that you could’t get a style of the motion. You’ll be able to bike the identical route, or observe stage by stage as a spectator. Listed here are the highlights you possibly can anticipate to see when you observe the route, plus our sensible tricks to make it occur.

Dusseldorf

The very first stage of this yr’s Tour de France begins and ends within the German metropolis of Dusseldorf. It’s a flat 13 km time trial by means of the town streets, largely alongside the banks of the Rhine and due to this fact splendidly flat. You’ll be able to observe an analogous route on a guided bike tour of the town, or meander your personal manner by means of the Outdated and New Cities. The parks and tree-lined promenade by the riverside are notably fairly, and a good way to ease your self into biking, particularly when you’re not terribly match.

Liège

Stage 2 of the Tour de France is an extended distance stage: 203 km from Dusseldorf throughout the border to Liège in Belgium. There are two brief climbs alongside the best way, and also you’ll see quite a lot of western Germany’s countryside as you cycle.

Although this part of the route is just not overly arduous, you can be spending a number of hours within the saddle. It’s important you put on the fitting shorts or tights to keep away from chafing. Jack Wolfskin’s Gravity Flex Tights are stretchy and breathable, and importantly are additionally waterproof — useful for the unpredictable climate in Northern Europe!

Whenever you arrive into Liège, don’t be deceived by the primary industrial appearances. Climb the Montagne de Bueren steps for a rewarding metropolis view, and deal with your self to a well-earned beer on the prime.

Troyes

Biking and ingesting wine could not at all times go collectively, however there are few issues extra pleasurable in life than biking by means of French vineyards. The organisers of the Tour de France know that properly, and so Stage 7 runs 213 km by means of the vineyards of Burgundy from Troyes to Nuits-Saint-Georges. Champagne and Rosé des Riceys are simply two of the native specialities: it’s also possible to maintain your vitality ranges up with Troyes andouillette, Chaource cheese, and Prunelle de Troyes, a very potent prune-based liquor.

⇒ Learn additionally: Highway journey to Champagne for a corker of a weekend break

Bergerac

Opponents within the Tour de France take a much-needed relaxation day within the Dordogne earlier than beginning on Stage 10, the 178 km leg from Perigueux to Bergerac. The terrain here’s a little hillier, however the rewards for guests are ample: the well-known cave work of Lascaux, truffles and foie gras for the foodies, and the sights of Bergerac.

Bergerac’s Outdated City seems as if it was made for tourism. The timber framed homes are medieval, there are vigorous markets within the squares, and you’ll wander alongside the financial institution of the Dordogne River right down to the historic quay.

Rodez

By the point you attain Stage 14 (182 km), you’ll want to boost your recreation. The hills right here may look photogenic, however as they rise increased and better, your legs will begin to burn.

Be grateful that you just’re on a contemporary, light-weight bicycle. The primary time that British riders competed within the Tour de France was in 1955, and their gear and clothes seemed very totally different certainly. The Wearwell Cycle Firm, who sponsored riders in that first British crew, have relaunched their assortment in 2017, combining a touch of 1950s classic model with the newest supplies and designs. You’ll be able to look the half while driving in full consolation.

Whenever you do get to Rodez on the finish of the stage, inevitably you’ll be exhausted. When you’ve recovered, do enable a while for sightseeing, nonetheless. Rodez’s cathedral is a masterpiece of gothic structure; there’s a wonderful round strolling tour across the Outdated City; and the native park, Domaine de Combelles, covers 300 acres.

Salon-de-Provence

The longest stage of the tour, Stage 19, runs by means of the lavender fields and olive groves of Provence. It’d look totally idyllic nevertheless it’s robust on the legs, particularly within the first a part of the day. Even the professionals are hard-pushed to finish the 223 km in below 17 hours.

You might be heading for Salon-de-Provence. This yr is the primary time that the Tour de France has ever been by means of, although the city is an everyday function in different lengthy distance highway races such because the Paris-Good Peloton. Come right here to go to the 12th century Château de l’Empéri and the tomb of Nostradamus within the Saint-Laurent Collegiate Church. In case your journey coincides with the Du son au Balcon competition in August, you’ll additionally hear the central sq. pulsing as DJs combine the newest tracks from the balcony of the city corridor.

Paris

Everybody’s heard of the Maillot Jaune — the yellow jersey — of the Tour de France, and on the ultimate race day, that’s what’s on everybody’s thoughts. It’s thought-about unhealthy kind for different riders to don that color shirt, however if you wish to really feel like a winner by yourself bicycle trip, by all means flash some canary yellow.

The 21st and closing stage of the Tour de France is from Montgeron by means of Paris to the Champs-Élysées. It’s a 103 km trip and when the roads are cleared for the race, classed as a dash. When you’re competing with the Parisian site visitors, nonetheless, your tempo will inevitably be curtailed.

It’s in Paris that the joy of the race builds to a peak, and the place as a spectator you’ll discover the most effective vantage factors. Arrive in good time if you would like a spot on the Quai d’Orsay or Pont Alexandre III; you stand a greater likelihood within the grounds of the Grand Palais the place there’s relatively extra room.

Watching the race attain its triumphal finish on the Champs-Élysées is an emotional sight. And that’s much more true when you’ve cycled all — and even half — of the best way your self. Make time this summer time for the Tour de France, the best cycle race of all of them.

For extra info on Paris, ensure you try our devoted Paris web page: www.thetravelmagazine.web/paris

Reality File

FLY from London Heathrow to Dusseldorf from £75 a technique with Eurowings. Returning from Paris, flights begin from £62 with Vueling, or you possibly can take the Eurostar.

When you’re flying along with your bike, you’ll want a motorbike bag or case to cease it getting broken within the maintain.

By the way, low cost retailer MyVoucherCodes have give you some common costs so you possibly can guestimate how a lot you possibly can anticipate to pay alongside this route:

  • The common resort keep per night time – £57.15
  • The common tenting keep per night time – £13.31
  • The common meal in a restaurant  – £12.60

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