Shaping the mountains

March 25 th 2019 - 12:00

“There are too many hairpins on mountain roads. Why don’t we make roads with Alice bands?” wondered French comedian Pierre Dac in one of his famous – and in the end inspiring – sketches. Whilst our imagination would be hard pushed to compete with the humourist’s, cycling races provide us, in a way, with an opportunity to shape the mountains and to fleetingly invest the terrain in order to ascribe a new destiny to it. Whilst the historical playground for the Critérium du Dauphiné is centred on the Alps, the 71st edition of the race will expand its horizons with a visit to its neighbouring mountain range, the Massif Central. In particular, it will be passing through the Cantal and taking the riders to the slopes of the Puy Mary. Later, when the race will have reacquainted itself with more familiar landscapes, the journey proposed this year will be doing away with the traditional excursions and instead emphasising the virtues of discovery. The pack will no doubt be surprised when they tackle the Col de Beaune pass in the climax to the stage finishing in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, or on the sequence including the Col de Marcieu pass and the Pipay climb the next day. Right up to the last kilometres of the final ascent in Champéry, the slopes that will rise up in front of the riders possess all the qualities to provide a thrilling curtain raiser for the main contest later in the summer, as an ambiance of July gets a head start on the calendar…

Christian Prudhomme


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