Lance Armstrong & the Tour de France of Ski: Stage 19, Alpe d’Huez

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on July 23, 2009 10:43 am

Perhaps the name of this thread, an ongoing look of the Tour de France and the ski areas along and near the route, should be changed to “Alberto Contador & the Tour de France of Ski.”  Contador must have been burning inside during the tour’s early stages when asked if he or Lance Armstrong was the leader of his Astana team.  Ah, that was so long ago… 

The 2007 Champion continued his dominance of this year’s tour by winning stage 18, the Annecy time trial on Thursday.  The 26-year-old Spaniard left no doubt of who’s the daddy of the Astana team and of the 96th Tour de France.  Armstrong finished 1:30 behind Contador, but did move up into third place after Frank Schleck dropped to sixth.  Frank’s brother, Andy Schleck, remains in second position.  So although, this year’s tour may not be all about Lance Amrstrong, it still has been an impressive showing for the 37-year-old.  There’s still juice in those old legs!

Next up, stage 19, a flat ride from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas.   A short 50-mile drive from Aubenas is the mountain pasture and ski resort of the Central French Alps, Alpe d’Huez.

Tour de France of Ski: Stage 19, Alpe d’Huez

It is fitting that our tour of great ski areas along and near the route would come to Alpe d’Huez because most every year the Tour de France rolls through Alpe d’Huez.  So while the tour neglects Avenue du Rif Nel, we will not!

The Grandes Rousses ski area above Alpe d’Huez has size and history.  One of the world’s largest ski areas, the area is famous for its steep skiing and high altitude terrain.  If steep pitches are your ski need, Alpe d’Huez has you covered.  The couloirs of Cheminees du Mascle are a pulse raising 50 degrees.  Massive open powder fields are lift-served and heli-served.  The vertical is a massive 7,300 feet accessed by 24 chairlifts, 10 gondolas, six cable cars, and a ton of surface lifts.  In fact, the surface lift was essentially born in Alpe d’Huez, with the very first Poma (Pomagalski) surface lift installed here in the 1930s.

In a troubling sign of the times, summer skiing on its Sarenne glacier was suspended in 2004.  Still, Alpe d’Huez remains just a massive beast of a ski area, one of the greatest and biggest in the world.

Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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