Do not look for the Col de La Loze, the culmination of this Tour de France 2020, on the 2019 road map. This tarred section from a forest path did not exist a few months ago. “This road was not designed for cars, so there are incredible breaks in the slope, from 2 to 20% in the last switchbacks, praised before the departure the director of the Tour, back on the road after seven days of quarantine. It is not the highest pass in France, you can undoubtedly find a comparable landscape elsewhere, but the Loze is unique. “
→ DOSSIER. Tour de France 2020: all the information to follow this 107e editing
The runners, who ticked it off on the logbook like a scarecrow, probably do not share the boss’s joy. No more than many nature lovers, regretting this bleeding of black tar on the slope. Critics have flourished on social networks against the initiative of the Méribel resort, a municipality affected by this path, which saw it as a way to enrich its mountain leisure offer in summer. And also to join its longtime rival cousin, Courchevel, which did the same on the other side of the mountain, by paving a ski slope.
“Cycling yes, but not at any price”
The initiative of the cousins of the Tarentaise leaves Florence Vincendet, director of Maurienne Tourisme, who has been playing the cycle tourism card in the valley of the same name for years. “Cycling yes, but not at any price, she says. With us we are not at the time of tracing roads in the mountains, we are rather trying to develop the existing paved roads or trails for mountain biking as well as possible. Our ethic is to use the bicycle as a lever to enhance the natural and cultural heritage at altitude, for example by installing recharging terminals for electric bikes at the foot of the pass, in the last villages, in no case in the middle of the mountains. “
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For decades, the organization of the Tour de France convinced local elected officials to host the race by dangling the frequent renovation of the roadway by departmental services. But the idea of tracing artificial paths is new and stems from Christian Prudhomme’s desire to vary the pleasures.
Since he has headed the cycling department of the company that owns the race, Amaury Sport organization (ASO), Christian Prudhomme has put many new features on his hunting board. On little-known natural places such as the Lacets de Montvernier or the Grand Colombier. But also on artificial sites such as this alpine pass of Loze, or the extension of the Vosges Planche des Belles-Filles, which the riders will tackle on Saturday 19 during the final battle in the form of an individual time trial.
The indignant of the Planches des Belles-Filles
Already, the arrival for the first time in 2012 on this massif, the playground of local Thibaut Pinot, had made a lot of teeth cringe. Provoking the creation of a collective of opponents baptized the “indignant of the Board”. But the extension to the top, for the 2019 edition, of a section covered with a stony asphalt has revived criticism against an event deemed not very green, with its caravan distributing not really sustainable gifts and its hundreds of following cars. .
“In 2012, if we had been told that they would go to the top, we would not have believed it, but we are daring everything for the Tour de France, indignant Thierry Jeandet, mountain guide and kingpin of the Indignados. As for the recurring argument of cycling tourism, it does not hold water! We did not see the color of any economic impact. This must pass, in our rural and mountainous regions, through green energies. The Tour is the reverse of history. “
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This statement echoes the criticisms of environmental mayors of large cities, such as Lyon, Grenoble or Rennes, who will lay down their conditions before hosting the race. Not sure that attacking the mountain with bulldozers is the best way to attract their good graces.
The Loze pass, a tribute to Henri Desgrange
Each year, the Tour de France dedicates its highest stage in altitude to the creator of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange. Which is also honored by a stele built at the top of Galibier, which dominates the history of the Tour from the top of its 2,642 m. If the Galibier is not on the route, which is the case this year, the highlight of the current edition replaces it. For 2020, this distinction therefore goes to the 2,304 m of the Col de la Loze. And the € 5,000 of the Henri Desgrange prize will be allocated to the winner of the day.
→ The results of the day: The complete classification of the 16e stage of the Tour de France 2020
→ The general classification: Find the general classification of the Tour de France 2020