Whilst we wait for the Tour de France to return to the famous cols surrounding Morzine (it must only be a matter of time!) here at Buzz we offer a few days of adventure to catch the tour where it is closest to home.
For this years tour we stayed in Valmienier, a 3 hour drive from Morzine, based in one of the top road cycling destinations in the Alps. We stayed in the wonderful Chalet Thabor 1000 where we were warmly welcomed and settled in for the next few days.
With cyclists and non-cyclists involved, Buzz ensured everyone got the most out of their trip, as well as see as much of the tour as possible.
Those cycling had the opportunity to cycle up the Lacets de Mont Vernier (a spectacular switchback climb) and the Col du Télégraphe before arriving in Valmienier.
The heat wave made life sweaty but everyone did a smashing job to cycle what they did.
Not to forget those enjoying the air-con in the car on the way over a little later.
Chef Pippa had prepared delicious lasagnes for us to eat that evening whilst we plotted a plan of action for the following morning.
Stage 18 of the Tour de France from Embrun to Valloire meant the tour finished just up the road from Valmeinier.
Those who wanted to tackle the Col de Galibier cycled up from Valmienier for lunchtime and found a spot on the Col du Lauret side of Galibier in preparation to watch the tour come up from Briançon, a couple of hundred meters from the summit.
Others cycled to Valloire to catch the finish with a leisurely lunch while they waited.
Our viewpoint on the Galibier couldn’t have been better. We could see the caravan approach, flinging all sorts of advertising paraphernalia to desperate spectators.
The rather menacing stream of helicopters hummed up the valley, indicating that the cyclists were not far.
Watching the cyclists approach, the crowds loved every second of cheering on all participants.
Joe had live updates on his phone and although able to announce the stage winner (Quintana), he also delivered the bad news that we would probably be cycling home in the rain. But what an adventure it was!
For any day in the mountains one must always be prepared that the weather can change very quickly. A forecast will only go so far; you can never quite be sure just at what time that storm will come in.
Once the tour had come through, the crowds were desperate to make their descent home. Never soggier, but still smiling, the Buzz team, and those who’d watched the finish in Valloire, made it home safely.
We warmed up with hot showers and a tummy-warming local dish of tartiflette in a restaurant.
Stage 19 Saint Jean de Maurienne to Tignes. Those cycling drove to cycle the Col de l’Iseran. Clearly there was something in the air as ‘les gendarmes’ were reluctant to let spectators up the col to watch. With hindsight, the weather was most probably the reason. As we now know, a hailstorm was imminent. Maybe the organisers were hoping the storm would never arrive, but it did, and the Tour de France 2019 made history by cutting a stage short and totally amending another.
Nevertheless, the Buzz team managed to witness the tour on the Iseran and those not cycling went to watch the start in Saint Jean de Maurienne.
The atmosphere in the town was buzzing and yellow bikes and umbrellas decorated the buildings.
The caravan set off and yet again there was a scramble to get as many goodies as possible. Having seen the caravan towards the end of the tour the day before, it was impressive to see that their energy levels and enthusiasm (and on Stage 19!) was still going strong.
After a snooze and picnic in the park we took our places along the main street to watch the tour set off. The support vehicles went first, along with TV crews, motorbikes and then finally the cyclists whizzed past in a flurry of coloured jerseys.
That evening we all gathered to discuss the unusual weather over a BBQ and share our days’, contemplating what was to happen for Stage 20.
What was to be another mountain stage was cut to 59km and the tour taking a direct route from Albertville to Val Thorens. A shame as some Buzz Bees had completed the Étape the week before and now wouldn’t see the tour complete the same stage.
Sadly, the weather was too unpredictable and with it being such a short stage, the decision was made to get back to Morzine knowing the entire stage could be watched from the safety and warmth of the sofa!
An exciting and memorable tour trip for Buzz who never let the weather dampen their spirits and successfully managed to see much of the tour as planned, awesome!