Did you think this year’s Tour de France was a bit boring? Was Bradley Wiggin’s win lacking in drama? If you, like so many others, felt that way than hold on to your hats. If rumors are to be believed Tour organizers are about to shake things up.
According to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, they have received numerous anonymous reports from within the Amaury Sport Organization, which plans Le Tour each year, that course planners are actually considering ending the race on the slopes of Alp d’Huez, perhaps the most well-known and legendary of all the mountains in the race. If true, it would be the first time that the race didn’t end on the streets of Paris, with the rider in the Yellow Jersey essentially taking a ceremonial lap along the Champs Elysees.
The 2013 edition of the race will mark the 100th running of the Tour, so of course fans of the race expect there to be some surprises to celebrate that milestone. The course itself will be revealed in full on October 24, although we already know that the first three stages will be held in Corsica, followed by a team time trial in Nice. What else is in store for the riders remains to be seen.
Alp d’Huez is known for punishing even the best climbers the sport of cycling has to offer. It features 21 switchbacks, spread out over 13.8 km (8.5 miles) with an average grade of 7.9%. Each of those hairpin turns has been named for the riders who win the stage over the years, which only adds to the legend hat the slope brings to the Tour when ever it is included on the course.
So, is there any chance that the race could end on this massive mountaintop? I’d say there is always a chance, but personally I’d be quite surprised. The Tour is steeped in tradition and one of the most well respected of those traditions is the final ride on the Champs Elysees on the final day. Pitting the riders against one another on a final grueling climb would certainly add a new element to the competition however, as even large time gaps can be eliminated on Alp d’Huez. It would make for a very different strategy to say the least. If I were a betting man, I’d say the ride still ends in Paris, but perhaps the Saturday before the finishing stage is held on Alp d’Huez. That would still be quite impactful on the race and introduce a new level of drama.
I guess we’ll find out more on October 24.