Tour de France Stage 10 preview: French ski resorts still on display

Posted By: The Ski Channel on July 13, 2010 11:58 am

Stage 10 of the 2010 Tour de France will mark the 150th anniversary celebration of France annexing Savoy, however, cyclists probably won’t be celebrating too hard during the stage’s challenging climbs.

For example, The Cote de Laffrey climb, that occurs on leaving Vizille, will be very demanding. The Col du Noyer pass will also provide quite a challenge for riders. However, unlike the last two days of competition centered in the Alps, Stage 10 won’t be your standard high-altitude racing, as the descent is known for its more serpentine-like approach.

The upcoming stage should be a haven for an attacking cyclist who excels on the breakaway. Tour-favourite Alberto Contador has said he will wait for The Pyrenees to mount his attack, so tomorrow’s stage favors an outsider from a smaller team.

While the cyclists have now concluded the grueling Alps portion of Le Tour, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any more ski areas for the riders and fans to drool over in the summer heat. Both the starting and finishing points for Stage 10 offer a bounty of ski resorts that rank as some of France’s best sources of tourism.

Starting Point: Chambery, Savoie Department

Stage 10 will embark from the capital city of Chambery, located in the Savoie Department. Because of its ideal position at the foot of the mountains, Chambery is a cycling stronghold, even though it has never hosted a stage finish on the Tour, which is inclined to hold them up on the mountain rather than in valleys.

A look at Chambery, start of Stage 10

Despite the valley, this Department is very well regarded by skiers, as a host of ski resorts make their home within the area.

Savoie has relied extensively on mountain-based tourism as a main economic strength for many years. With its 60 ski resorts, its three natural parks – Vanoise, Bauges and Chartreuse, and its six spa towns, the department offers plenty of leisure opportunities for visitors. In addition, Savoie was one of the Olympic sites during the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville.

Interesting to note, Chambery has spent more money to encourage literacy than any other French town, which has resulted in Chambery citizens checking out library materials at three times the national average.

Finish Line: Gap, Hautes-Alpes Department

The beautiful stage finish of Gap, Hautes-Alpes

Wrapping of Stage 10 will occur in the city of Gap, the capital of the Hautes-Alpes (High Alpes) Department. Hautes-Alpes has the distinction of holding the highest average altitude among French Departments. The area was rather isolated until the arrival of the train, which forced the department to live on its own resources throughout its history. Known predominantly as a farming area, tourism has been booming thanks to the ski resorts of Serre-Chevalier Vars, les Orres or Montgenevre, and in the summer to the many campsites around the Serre-Poncon artificial lake.

Drool alert: Serre-Chevalier Vars resort, just one of many ski resorts located in the Hautes-Alpes Department