Cyclocalendar heroes the Tour de France. In a series of articles we focus on the stage cities and the gran fondo's and sportives of thee region. Today: stage 20, which starts from Lure.
Photo: Last year's finish. Today, the riders won't do this gravel section (photo Frank Jansen).
In this series we've encountered many stage cities with around 8000 inhabitants of which there is not much to report. Today is also such a day, Lure is exactly like that. It is located just southeast of the Vosges. That mountain range is of course all too familiar to the Dutch, Belgians, Germans and of course the French. For many riders from Northern-Europe, it's the easiest way to find climbs up to 900 meters of elevation so close to home.
The Vosges have a special place in the tour history. The Ballon d'Alsace is said to be the first climb ever in the Tour in 1905. This is incorrect, because the peloton had already conquered Col de la République in the Massif Central two years earlier. There are plenty of famous climbs here. The Grand Ballon, Le Markstein, Col de la Schlucht, Petit Ballon, Ballon de Servance to name a few. And of course today's final climb: the Planche des belles Filles. The last time the Tour arrived here was last year. The peloton then even rode a few kilometers further than the usual finish spot, over a very steep gravel strip. Dylan Teuns won the stage. What's special about this difficult climb is that amateur cyclists made this col famous, only then came the pros. Usually it goes the other way around.
Today the riders will finish at the end of the paved road. That gravel strip would also be a bit too much for a time trial bike. If you want to discover the Vosges, it's better not to stay in Lure. The terrain is only slightly hilly, and the famous climbs are far too far away. Bussang (or somewhere nearby) is in our opinion the best base. An important tip: book as late as possible. This region is rightfully known as the chamber pot of France. It can rain terribly here, sometimes for weeks in a row.
In the Vosges many gran fondo's are organized: Les 3 Balloons, Grand Huit Vosgien, Les Ballons Vosgiens, Les Marcaires en L'Alsacienne. And what about Granfondo Vosges? The reason we choose this GF? First of all: it is going to take place on short notice (September 27th), secondly the course is just a bit different than usual, because it doesn't contain any big names. You do collect 3500 m in 175 km. Not easy! A beautiful route that will certainly appeal to cyclists who think they've seen it all in the Vosges.
We'll finish tomorrow with our last stage city: Mantes-la-Jolie.Related stories