I'm a cat, and I can't ride a bike but I've been facinated by Le Tour de France ever since I was a little kitten.
On Wenesday, July 23rd, the 17th stage of this year’s Tour de France will be 218km long, with 3 mammoth mountain climbs; including the final climb of the day going up Alpe D’Huez.
The climb up Alpe d'Huez is 14 km long at an average gradient of 8.1% with 21 hairpin bends (see picture on the left) each marked with a panel honouring the winner of a stage that has finished on Alpe D'Huez . The total vertical climb is over 1,100 metres and on Wednesday, this climb will start after the riders have already ridden 204 km that day; including having climbed over the peaks of the Col de Galibier (2,645 meters high) and the Col de le Croix de Fer (2,067 meters high).
As the most legendary climb in recent Tour history, Alpe D’Huez has been the scene of chaotic crowds in the past 10 years. In 1999 Giuseppe Guerini won the stage despite being knocked off his bike by an over-enthusiastic spectator who stepped into his path to take a photograph .
The 2004 Tour de France route featured an individual time trial up Alpe d'Huez, which became a chaotic scene crowded with nearly a million fans (see picture below). Lance Armstrong won the stage despite having received death threats earlier that day and having an armed bodyguard riding in the car behind him. Armstrong’s time that day was only 1 second slower than the official record set in 1997 by the late Marco Pantani of 37 minutes, 35 seconds (roughly 23 km/hr).