The access panel to the Loze pass, at the top of Méribel, before the cycle path.
D. Blanchard / 20 Minutes
The Tour de France will discover a new pass on Wednesday, the Col de la Loze.
An irregular pass, difficult and unequaled in France, explain the runners who have tried it.
The general classification of the Tour de France could well be played there.
He insisted on testifying several times.
He used all his authority and sometimes even threatened the worst.
But we were able to resist.
No, you will not read in these lines how our chef tackled this summer the new monster of the Alps, the Col de la Loze.
And even less that he dismounted there from the first somewhat difficult ramps.
It would be damn bloated and unprofessional on our part ...
La Loze, then.
First ramps at Brides-les-Bains for 21.5 kilometers of 7.8% ascent through Les Allues and Méribel.
And above all, the last seven inhumane milestones with slopes around 20%.
The novelty of this Tour de France and the great pride of Thierry Gouvenou, the gentleman of the Grande Boucle: “I cannot find a comparable place, it is a unique route in France.
It will be the most complicated finish for the riders to manage, the main finish of the Tour ”.
His boss Christian Prudhomme had declared himself “subjugated” when he discovered the bestiau.
Funny story, by the way.
Prudhomme says that it was the legendary Bernard Hinault himself who called him after attending a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir that arrived at La Loze to advertise it: "You have to come and see that ”.
It was the first time that a cycling race climbed to the summit, at 2,304 meters above sea level.
And for good reason, the road is new.
Before, we stopped at Méribel.
Until the mayor of Les Allues, Thierry Monin, had the last kilometers of the pass asphalted a few months ago to make it "a green lane, closed to the circulation of motor vehicles" and following the roughness of the slope.
This is what makes these last seven terminals so unique.
“There is nothing regular, explained Gouvenou.
there is never the same gradient, we go from flat to 20%, then to 10%.
You have to change your pace all the time, that's what riders don't like.
To better understand, we asked Eva Lindskog, record holder for the rise among women on the social network of cyclists Strava, to describe the new toy of the Tour.
“The start of the ascent to Méribel is very classic: the road is wide and straight, the percentages regular and the surface of good quality.
The fun begins after Méribel.
We still have two kilometers at 7 or 8% then we arrive at the roundabout of the slopes.
This is where the new road begins and access is closed to cars.
There, from the first bend to the right, a real wall at 20% rises.
After the initial shock, the road flattens out a bit, but temporarily, as you immediately climb back up to almost 20% in the left turn.
The next 200 meters are flat and you climb another 20% on the next right turn.
Then we have 1.5 km with regular percentages where we can find a rhythm.
From there, there is no more vegetation to protect us from the wind, we are totally in the open.
Then, we find a new false flat then just after a passage above 20% before the last two kilometers.
We have a small descent, which breaks the rhythm again, then the percentages go up to 15% before the final wall of 200 meters which is perhaps the hardest of the whole climb and where we are sorely lacking in oxygen.
We understand why our boss set foot on the ground.
A runner from the peloton, who will not be named either (it's Pierre-Luc Périchon from Cofidis), told us that he too had to do it on foot because he didn't have the right gear to go up.
The large percentages, the breaks in slope and the altitude make it torture.
Eva Lindskog sums it up in one line: “What is hardest is that we change our rhythm all the time.
The profile of the Loze - Screenshot Tour de France
"Obliged that it makes gaps"
So much for the technical description.
For the comparison, we asked our specialist and some local specialists to find equivalents.
"The last five kilometers, I've never done that," assures Arthur Blanc, winner of a cyclo on the spot this summer.
It doesn't exist in France, it's quite unique ”.
"The Galibier, the Izoard, the Madeleine have a bit of the same principle with bearings, but it is not as pronounced as in the Loze," continues Michel Benzonelli, president of the Albertville Olympic cycling club.
This pass, we do it once for having done it but we do not take pleasure.
In passages at 20%, you have to hang on to pass.
It's narrow, to switch to three bikes is complicated.
And if there is one that gets stuck, it can block everyone and you can put your foot on the ground.
If you do, you're dead to restart.
Eva Lindskog attempts a parallel with another French giant, Mont Ventoux, which she immediately defines as "a walk in the park" next to the Loze.
“The two climbs are pretty close in terms of percentage and length,” she explains.
The difference is that the hard part of Ventoux comes more at the start of the ascent and the percentages are regular.
At La Loze, it's the last part that is hard.
You are at high altitude and you have already climbed a lot to be there.
It's impossible to find rhythm and you have to "send the watt" just so as not to be stopped in passages at 20%.
It was one of the hardest climbs of my life.
The view in the Loze - D. Blanchard / 20 Minutes
Become the new paradise for cyclists - "it's terrifying the world there is, it goes by without stopping" says Michel Benzonelli - the Loze pass will write its young history with its first Tour arrival on Wednesday.
"We hope to attract the Tour de France other times ... if this day is convincing for everyone," said the mayor of Les Allues in October.
Eva Lindskog doesn't see how she wouldn't be on the show again.
“La Loze will be the decisive moment of this Tour.
The teams will be there to protect the leaders all the way to the bike path, but after the first ramp I can imagine a scenario with a duel between Roglic and Pogacar.
The percentages will mean that there will be a lot of attacks anyway and given his form, Pogacar will surely try something there.
Michel Benzonelli abounds.
“It has to make gaps.
Here, it's impossible to look at yourself and it's every man for himself.
That's what interests the organizers and that's why it can become legendary.
We're not there yet.
To become a legend, a collar must create sports memories, of course, but also have a little something extra ... Eva Lindskog believes in it.
“This pass has all the ingredients: it's hard, it's long, it's beautiful, there is no car and the view at the top is magnificent.
And it has to be earned.
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