It is the queen stage of the Tour de France 2020. The 17th stage, between Grenoble and Méribel, looks like a torture carefully thought out to make the runners suffer.

After having taken the Col de la Madeleine, a classic of the Grande Boucle, they will bang their heads against the Col de la Loze, an unprecedented 21.5 km climb, an average gradient of 8% but with passages at 20% .

It will be the roof of the 2020 Tour with its arrival at 2,304 meters above sea level.

"A different pass"

In October 2019, during the presentation of the route of the Tour, the director of the event, Christian Prudhomme, enthusiastically affirmed that it was the "prototype of the pass of the 21st century".

This route was only paved in the spring of 2019. It was previously a simple dirt and gravel road allowing machines to go and repair the ski lifts in the Domaine des 3 Vallées.

On the last kilometers, no vehicle is allowed: only bicycles have right of way.

A game-changing closure to road traffic, as the Tour director underlined during an interview with the Dauphiné:

The profile of the ascent of the Col de la Loze.


"It is a pass totally different from anything that we can know in France and this for a very simple reason: it was not made for cars but tarred for bicycles. The consequence is that the incessant slope while the road passes are more smoothed ", he explains," This pass is really crazy. It is a succession of walls between 1700 and 2300 meters of altitude. We hope for a crazy arrival in a enchanting setting. "

Between the Madeleine, the Tourmalet, the Grand Colombier (climbed during the 15th stage), the Alpe d'Huez… The Tour de France is not stingy with legendary passes but with the Col de la Loze, the Grande Boucle holds Is this her Zoncolan or her Angliru, the terrifying mythical climbs of the Tour of Italy and the Tour of Spain?

“I don't know if we can compare them but it's a really different pass,” says Christian Prudhomme.

A really difficult pass, especially in terms of breath

For the moment, the pass has only been used once in official competition: it was in August 2019 during the Tour de l'Avenir, which each year brings together the best hopes of world cycling.

And it was Bernard Hinault, the last French winner of the Tour de France (1985), present during this race, who recommended him to Christian Prudhomme:

"When I came, I was expecting something great and found something even better," recalls the latter.

That year, the young rider of AG2R La Mondiale, Clément Champoussin, was present.

"It's a really difficult pass. As soon as you pass the Méribel altiport, the slope quickly becomes very steep. The difficulties follow one another and the final, at a rather high altitude for cycling, adds to the difficulty in terms of breath. It's really very intense, "he recalls, questioned by the Parisian.

"A butcher shop"

The municipality of Brides-les-Bains, already famous for its thermal cures in the heart of the 3 Valleys ski area, wants to capitalize on this new Tour de France pass to attract en masse amateur runners in need of thrills.

Three days before the passage of the Grande Boucle, she organized a cyclosportive hike to offer amateurs the opportunity to climb the Loze pass.

Two hundred and fifty nine people answered the summit's call.

View this post on Instagram

📸 A look back at the first edition of the Col de la Loze by Brides-les-Bains event 🚴‍♂️ The cyclosportive recorded more than 300 participations.

A big thank you to all the organizers, volunteers, partners and congratulations to all the runners for this day!

🤩 See you next year for a new edition!

#BridesLesBains # Les3Vallées # 3Vallées

A post shared by Brides-les-Bains (@brideslesbains) on Sep 14, 2020 at 8:37 am PDT

"The cyclists have found the climb full of surprises. We constantly wonder when we will finally reach the end. The group 'Donnons des elles au Vélo', an association of women who do the stages of the Tour before the riders to give visibility in women's cycling, told me bluntly: 'it's a butcher's shop' ", smiles Bénédicte Breuls, director of the tourist office of Brides-les-Bains, interviewed by France 24." The decor is wonderful. The participants arrive exhausted but happy. "

"The coach of the France Team and consultant for France TV, Thomas Voeckler, came to recognize the pass for a report. He spoke of an atypical and surprising climb. He is in a hurry to see how the riders will react to it" , she continues.

"When you manage to lift the front wheel without pulling on the handlebars, it's because it's steep"

The ascent of the Col de la Loze surprised the former yellow jersey @voecklerthomas with its passages at more than 20% .

A climb to discover this evening at 8:45 p.m. in Tout Le Sport on France 3

- France tv sport (@francetvsport) September 14, 2020

On paper, this playing field should be favorable to pure climbers and especially Colombians, used to evolving at more than 2,000 meters above sea level.

It could be the occasion for one of the favorites in distress like Thibaut Pinot or Egan Bernal to offer himself a prestigious stage victory, for lack of a yellow jersey.

Unless Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma again padlocked the race to prevent the Slovenian yellow jersey from being overtaken by his compatriot Tadej Pogacar, second in the overall standings just 40 seconds behind.

>> To read also: The insolent superiority of the Jumbo-Visma and their "total cycling"

The French cyclist Julian Alaphilippe believes that it will be the occasion for an explanation between the favorites of the Tour.

"For me, [this pass] has every chance of being the scene of a victory for the favorites in the general classification", estimates the rider of the Deceunick-Quickstep.

Emmanuel Macron, for his part, did not miss the date.

It is this stage that he chose for his annual visit to the event.

During his previous visit in 2019, Thibaut Pinot, won.

A sign ?

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