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Tour 2009,  1 - 5 July

stagedistance (km)climbing (m)
Gières - Luitel - L'Alpe-d'Huez692480
L'Alpe-d'Huez - Sarenne - Lautaret - Granon - Névache1152870
Névache - Susa - Mont-Cenis - Bonneval1092400
Bonneval - Iseran - Petit St-Bernard - Entrèves1002390
Entrèves - Grand St-Bernard - Martigny1191880
total51212020

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Stage 1 (1 July 2009): Gières - Luitel - L'Alpe-d'Huez

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I took an early train from Zurich to Geneva and changed there to Grenoble. I got out with my bicycle at Gières, just before Grenoble. The first feeling was not really good: hot, more than 30°. This, however, was the lowest point of the whole tour i could thus hope that it would be the highest temperature. I took a road in a valley to Uriage, where i crossed the track of my tour 2006 and turned left, starting to climb to the Luitel pass. I was glad to reach soon the Prémol forest and to find some shade. At Luitel, i left the main road to Chamrousse, passed near the nice little lake and reached the pass of Luitel. The descent to Séchilienne was on a narrow and irregular road, but with almost no traffic. I feared that the main road to Bourg-d'Oisans would then be boring, but it was not so bad. First i had some tailwind, and second i was far from alone on this road. There were indeed quite many cyclists aiming obviously at the same climb than me...
I stopped at Bourg-d'Oisans to have a drink, than started on the famous climb to the Alpe-d'Huez. Many other cyclists were on the way up, some probably training for the 'Marmotte' popular race, to take place a few days later. I did not look at my stop watch. I had two good reasons for this: first the heat, second the fact that it was the last climb of the first day, which is by experience not the easiest one. And it was indeed quite hard. With some stops on the way, i finally managed it. Towards the end, it became easier as the temperature went down. There are some big hotels at l'Alpe-d'Huez, but i chose a very small one.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Gières0210 
Uriage9410200
Col Luitel201260850
Luitel21127010
Séchilienne31360 
Livet42660300
Rochetaillée4871050
Bourg-d'Oisans5572010
La Tannerie5773010
Huez651460730
Alpe-d'Huez691780320
total69 2480

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Stage 2 (2 July 2009): L'Alpe-d'Huez - Sarenne - Lautaret - Granon - Névache

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Even before breakfast, i took my bicycle and rode to the Col de Poutran, a pass above the Alpe-d'Huez that is paved only from this side, not on its north slope to Oz-d'Oisans. I rode actually a little bit higher to have a better view over this north slope. After seeing the sunrise, i was back in time for breakfast at the hotel.
I did not choose the same road to return to the valley but a small and very quite road over Col de Sarenne. The landscape was very picturesque (except for all the ski lifts) and i was alone on the way. What a difference with the day before. After the descent, i joined the main road near the dam of Chambon. I took it to the east. Except for some uncomfortable rides through tunnels, the long climb to the Lautaret pass posed no problem at all. I was at the Lautaret already during my tour 2001, but then it was 'for free' as it was in the descent from the higher Galibier. This time, i can really pretend to have climbed the Lautaret. After a stop at the pass to have a drink and a piece of bread, i rode down, but not all the way to Briançon. At Chantemerle, i turned left and started to climb to the Granon pass. I was a long climb and the sun heated this south slope, but i felt it easier than the Alpe-d'Huez. The sight to the Écrins massif was beautiful. I stopped at the pass and had a drink at the refuge, but as i wanted to leave i had a flat tire. Bad luck! I repaired and started the descent to the other side. I hoped that it would be fine to ride, but only the first few kilometres had good gravel. Further down, it was steeper and stony. It was a very hard descent, but at least i did not have to count further flat tires. Luck! Not necessary to tell that i was very glad to find again a surfaced road. It went gently uphill towards Névache, where i found a very nice little auberge.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Alpe d'Huez01780 
Col de Poutran32000220
Alpe d'Huez61780 
Cognet (Alpe d'Huez)8185070
Les Bergers (Alpe d'Huez)91800 
Altiport10187070
Gorges de Sarenne141750 
Col de Sarenne172000250
Le Chambon301040 
Lac du Chambon33105010
Col du Lautaret4920601010
Le Monêtier-les-Bains681480 
La Salle-des-Alpes751370 
Le Villard-Laté78143060
Col de Granon892410980
La Cuala932310 
Granon971950 
La Draye (Val-des-Prés)981400 
Sallé (Névache)1151600200
total115 2870

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Stage 3 (3 July 2009): Névache - Susa - Mont-Cenis - Bonneval

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The third day, i got up quite early in order to hit the road at 8 o'clock, and not with an empty stomach. The goal was to be at ten in Susa to meet a small group of Italian cyclists. I first rode up to the Col de l'Échelle, which was no longer far. After the pass, the road goes slightly down and up again, and here is already a second pass, called Mauvais Pas. Nothing bad despite the name, on the contrary: effortless one more pass in the collection. After a few hairpin curves, i reached the Italian border where i had to show my ID, for the first time since many years that i'm cycling between alpine countries. In Bardonecchia, i took the main road down to Susa and was there on time at our meeting point. Antonio was also on time: he had done the 11-hour train ride from Lucca near Pisa the day before. Federico, then Sergio and Vincenzo arrived a bit later. At almost 11, we were in saddle towards Mont Cenis. From now on, i would be for almost all the remaining itinerary on my own tracks, those of my tour 2001. There were just more breaks to allow everybody to follow... and to take some pictures. As we were close to the hairpin curves climbing to the dam, the last guy of our party caught up, Tita. We were now six on the way to the Mont Cenis pass, which we reached in the early afternoon.
After a fast descent, we reached Lanslevillard, went up to the Madeleine Pass and continued towards Bonneval. We easily found an hotel with free rooms for us. The dinner was finally the opportunity to get acquainted with this group of cyclists of different ages and from different parts of Italy, and this in spite of my poor Italian.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Sallé (Névache)01600 
Roubion1162020
St-Hippolyte21580 
Col de l'Échelle41760180
Douane51750 
Mauvais Pas6178030
Bardonecchia161260 
Salbertrand331030 
Deveys36110070
Peirore (Exilles)42770 
Gravere48760 
Susa52500 
La Caisse7520601560
La Caisse762030 
Fontainettes78210070
La Vachère812040 
Col du Mont Cenis82208040
Lanslevillard921460 
Col de la Madeleine961750290
l'Ile (Bessans)981670 
Tralenta (Bonneval)1091810140
total109 2400

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Stage 4 (4 July 2009): Bonneval - Iseran - Petit St-Bernard - Entrèves

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Because they wanted to catch a train at Pré-St-Didier in the afternoon, Sergio and Tita started in advance towards the Iseran. The remaining four of us were not in hurry. We took our time for breakfast and hit the road a bit later. In the middle of the climb, we let Antonio behind us and we continued as a group of three: Federico, Vincenzo and me. The climb to the Iseran pass in the morning light was just gorgeous. We were not very fast, but too fast: as we reached the pass, the restaurant was not yet open. We stopped anyway, to take a few pictures and just to enjoy this high pass and the view from there.
Then we enjoyed the descent to Val-d'Isère, bought something to eat, and contiuned down to Ste-Foy. From there we took the little road up to Montvalezan. We had a break where my companions ate what they had taken from Val-d'Isère (i did not have much, it was already eaten and i was not hungry). After this break, we continued up to the Petit-St-Bernard. After joining the main road coming from Bourg-St-Maurice, the climb was no longer steep but still quite long. Thick clouds were gathering around the mountain tops and we were not fast enough to avoid some rain as we arrived at the pass. We could shelter and after five minutes the rain receded and let us set off again. Before La Thuile, however, we got into a serious thunderstorm with even some hail. We could shelter again, but not without getting wet feet and cold legs. Fortunately, this shower did not last long either and we could soon leave La Thuile and continue down to Pré-St-Didier. The last hairpin curves were even dry.
The goal of the day was no longer far and only the gentle climb to Entrèves was left. At Entrèves, we had again no problem to find a nice but not too expansive hotel at the foot of the Mont Blanc. We had to wait a while till Antonio also arrived. He had had a long day riding, but he did not even look tired. Later, Sergio was also there, back from Susa with his car. We went together to have dinner in a restaurant of this nice village of Entrèves.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Tralenta (Bonneval)01810 
Col de l'Iseran132760950
Val d'Isère291830 
La Daille311790 
Tunnel du Chevril36182030
Ste-Foy491060 
Hauteville561560500
La Rosière621840280
Col du Petit St-Bernard702190350
La Thuile831470 
Pré-St-Didier931020 
Entrèves1001300280
total100 2390

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Stage 5 (5 July 2009): Entrèves - Grand St-Bernard - Martigny

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The fifth day was a Sunday. After breakfast, i said goodbye to my Italian companions and went down to Aosta as they wanted to climb into the Val Veny. For me, this last day in saddle ressembled very much the end of my tour 2001: over the Grand-St-Bernard, then down to Martigny to take a train. The main difference was that there were construction works on the Italian side of the pass. Further up, they were finished and the road was new. Because of the dark clouds, i feared a new thunderstorm. Fortunately, it didn't rain during this ride, except perhaps in the descent when wind gusts blew irrigation water on the road rather than on the fields. The valley of Entremont is indeed often windy and i experienced it again, having to pedal hard where there was only a slight slope down. I finally arrived at Martigny around 3 o'clock. In the train to Lausanne, there was an entire waggon for my bicycle, but from Lausanne to Zurich there were only 5 hooks for more than 20 bicycles...

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Entrèves01300 
Pré-St-Didier81020 
Morgex13920 
Aosta40590 
Etroubles561260670
Col du Grand St-Bernard7424701210
Bourg-St-Bernard801930 
Bourg-St-Pierre861650 
Orsières99910 
Martigny119470 
total119 1880


PS / 11.7.2009