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Etape du Tour
16th July 2017 @ 7:00 am - 6:00 pm
The 2017 edition of the Etape du Tour will take place on Sunday July 16 on the route for stage 18 of the Tour de France – concluding with the first-ever summit finish on the Col d’Izoard.
The 178km stage will start in the Alpine town of Briancon and riders will first tackle the Col de Vars, which tops out at 2,108m – but it is the Col d’Izoard which undoubtedly takes centre stage.
The Izoard first appeared in the Tour in 1922 and has been used 34 times since – but never as a summit finish. Riders will climb the southern ascent from Guillestre, which rises for 31.5 km (19.6 mi) at an average gradient of 4.8 per cent to reach the summit at 2,360m. That average gradient belies the true difficulty of the climb, with the road pitching up to ten per cent for long stretches over the second half of the climb. The upper part of the climb is known as the Casse Déserte thanks to the dramatic, foreboding and barren scree slopes which will await riders.
Briançon is a unique town – the highest in Europe – that is both a Town of Art and History, and a Mountain Town. It is surrounded by some of the most famous passes in the history of cycling, and majestic peaks over 3 000 metres of altitude. Briançon is also an integral part of Serre Chevalier ski area, and offers the rare privilege of being able to ski facing the incredible Vauban fortifications, classified on the UNESCO World Heritage list. In the summer, any sport enthusiast will find countless activities in this unspoilt environment. The air here is crystal-clear, the town benefits from a Mediterranean climate, and is situated only 15kms from the Italian border. It is also a town on the move with an ambitious eco-district project to remodel the Heart of the Town.
With the Barre des Écrins, which culminates at an altitude of 4012m, the Hautes-Alpes has a wealth of remarkable sites: 27 ski resorts including Serre Chevalier, 3 natural parks (Écrins, Queyras, Baronnies Provençales), 2 UNESCO World heritage sites (Briançon and Mont Dauphin), the Serre Ponçon lake, mountaineering or outdoor pursuits hot spots (Tallard air strip), without forgetting the town of Gap. Even if tourism is the main economic activity, the Hautes-Alpes also benefit from quality agriculture (livestock farming, dairy production, arboriculture, viticulture and so on) and know-how in the construction, aeronautics, energy and service sectors thanks to a solid network of businesses. Cycling also contributes massively to the reputation of the Hautes-Alpes, that has 25 mountain passes. The Galibier, the Lautaret not forgetting the Izoard and the legendary Casse Déserte are spotted along the prestigious Great Alpine Road. The Tour de France has held a stage in the Hautes-Alpes 76 times.