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Tour de France 2003 - Parcours
By Podofdonny
Date: 6/25/2003
Tour de France 2003 - Parcours

100th Tour de France

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation
  A.S.O. 2003

Please visit the official site here.

Patrice Clerc and Jean-Marie Leblanc made the following comments when the Parcours were announced for the 100th Tour de France -

"This year it is not an ordinary Tour de France that we are preparing, but this rare and significant event, the Centenary edition of the greatest cycling competition in the world....

"....we will have a very pretty Tour route, via the emphatic and symbolic allusion that we wanted to make to 1903. For, just as in 1903, we will set off from Paris and the l'Ile de France area - the famous Réveil-Matin in Montgeron still exists - and just as in 1903, we will pass through Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes; and even Ville d'Avray, on the last day.

"And, diverging from the route of the first Tour de France, we will pay tribute to the memory of its forefathers, Géo Lefèvre, Henri Desgrange and Jacques Goddet; we will visit its symbolic places, the Galibier, the Alpe d'Huez, the Izoard, the Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden; we will remain faithful to those who have been faithful to us, Bordeaux and Pau, but also Morzine, Ariège, the Hautes-Pyrénées... And we will also innovate, by exploring Cap'Découverte, in the Tarn region, or the Cité de l'Espace in Toulouse: nine new towns in total will figure on our route."

One hundred years later, without moving away from its fundamental points of reference, the Tour de France wants to retain its pioneering spirit.

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003


So how does the race shape up and who are likely to be the stage winners? The Daily Peloton looks at the race stage by stage...

Prologue - July 5: Paris, Eiffel Tower to La Maison de la Radio) ITT, 6.5 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

A dramatic start under the shade of the most famous landmark in Paris, the Eiffel Tower will ensure huge crowds, high emotions, and a historical dynamism worthy of the 100th edition of this great race.

It is hard to remember a prologue with so many contenders who could snatch the yellow jersey on the first day. The true GC contenders will be looking to strike early psychological blows, but the competition for the prologue victory will be fierce.

David Millar, Michael Rogers, Uwe Peschel, Michael Rich, Bradley McGee, Laurent Brochard, Evgeni Petrov, Santiago Botero Echeverry, Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez, and Antonio Tauler Llull will all be hoping to make their mark, or will Lance Armstrong once again strike the first blow to establish his presence against the contenders and pretenders?

Lance Armstrong. Photo courtesy of Dave O'Nyons

Stage 1 - July 6: Saint-Denis Montgeron to Meaux, 168 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

A ceremonial neutralised start will take the riders from the Rue Jules Rimet through Paris to the Le Reveil Matin, where the race started 100 years ago. After a short ceremony the 2003 Tour de France will then set off in earnest.

The three Cat four climbs and sprints will ensure that the race for the green jersey and a chancer wanting early publicity to take the Polka dot jersey will make the pace fast and furious. The big hitters will be trying to save energy and avoid the inevitable early crashes as the peloton tries to establish a rhythm.

It is very unlikely that any breakaway will succeed so it will be the first clash of the fast men:

Angelo Furlan, Stuart O'Grady, Alessandro Petacchi, Baden Cooke, Oscar Freire Gomez, Gerrit Glomser, Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel will be amongst the fast men looking to go green.

100 years ago

Stage 2 - July 7: La Ferté sous Jouarre to Sedan, 204 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

A long stage with an interesting twist in the tale. The cat 4 climb of the Côte de Longwé is only 35 kilometres from the finish and could provide the launch pad for a small group of escapees, and the unclassified climb at Frenois with just 5 kilometres to go may well make the final selection.

That said, the stage will probably end in a bunch sprint, but look out for the hard men of the peloton such as Fabio Baldato, Jaan Kirsipuu, Romans Vainsteins, Stefano Zanini and Carlos Dacruz.

Jaan Kirsipuu. Photo by Dave O'Nyons.

Stage 3 - July 8: Charleville Mézières to Saint Dizier, 167 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

If the form book is anything to go by, this should be definitely one for the sprinters, any breakaway attempts will be for TV exposure only and the sprinters teams should be well in control as the race heads into Saint Dizier.

Once again it will be a battle between Europe and Australia, with Italy (Petacchi), Germany (Zabel), Spain (Freire), France (Nazon), Estonia (Jaan Kirsipuu) Slovenia (Andrei Hauptman) and Australia (McEwen) fighting it out on the final sprint.

Andrei Hauptman. Photo by Dave O'Nyons.

Stage 4 - July 9: Joinville to Saint-Dizier TTT, 68 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

So the big guns must make their first showing since the prologue and nerves of steel are required for this team test. No disputing who the favourites are; the Once -Eroski lads have team time trialing down to an exact art and have a multi talented squad to gain a real advantage over the flat parcours.

Also near the mark will be US Postal Service, CSC, Fassa Bortolo and Cofidis. The Tifosi of Italy will be watching the stage from behind the settee hoping that the Saeco team, with the Giro d’italia winner Simoni, will not lose too much time to put him out of contention. That said, the Saeco team are well organised and have not stopped racing all season which may give them more power than is anticipated.

The first major hurdle of the race which may become even more intriguing if the weather plays a hand; if it is rainy and windy the result could become a lottery - although it is hard to see any team dispose the Once in this challenge.

Courtesy Once

Part Two: Tour de France Parcours
Stages 5 to 8 - The mythical names of the Tour start to appear - Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and the “Dutch Mountain” the Alpe d’Huez.

Parcours Stages 5 - 8

Stage 5 - July 10: Troyes to Nevers, 196 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

A champagne start at the city made famous by the product, and once again the battle for the Green jersey will be probably more evident than that for Yellow. A day for the GC contenders to shelter in the peloton and avoid accidents, the breakaways to try and make good their escape and the sprinters teams to dig deep for their man.

With Zabel, McEwen and Petacchi all contesting the Green jersey, the breakaways will probably gain no more than TV exposure and the usual suspects will be under the Flamme Rouge with their lead out men.

Courtesy Lotto

Stage 6 - July 11: Nevers to Lyon, 225 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

The cat 3 climb of the Côte des Echarmeaux after 159 kilometres and the Cat 4 climb of the Côte de Lozanne just 23 kilometres from the finish may finally give the breakaway boys a chance for stage glory. The big guns will be looking towards the following two stages and will be wanting to save as much energy as possible, and the rolling terrain is not ideally suited to the sprinters' teams.

French teams will be at the forefront of the attacks so expect to see riders like Franck Rénier (Bjr), Sébastien Hinault (C.A), Stéphane Augé (CA), Patrice Halgand (Del), Jérôme Pineau (Bjr) and Carlos Dacruz (FdJ) try and out run the fast mens' teams.

Courtesy Celine

Stage 7 - July 12: Lyon to Morzine, 226.5 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

When the Tour hits the mountains, the mountains hit back! First major climb of the Tour with the Cat 1 Col de la Ramaz. Fans will be experiencing déjà vu as the final kilometres of this stage were covered on stage 4 of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. That day of high drama (Armstrong crashing, falling out with Halgand and a dramatic battle between himself and Mayo) will no doubt be repeated for some teams and riders. A very difficult stage for the yellow jersey team to control; the Spanish teams will be sending attacks up the road, and Simoni may well see this as his first opportunity to try and regain time lost in the TTT.

By the end of the stage a clearer picture should emerge on who is a contender, and which teams will have to rethink tactics and start going for stage victories as opposed to greater ambitions.

Courtesy Dauphiné Libéré

Courtesy Dauphiné Libéré - Col de la Ramaz

July 13: Sallanches to L'Alpe d'Huez, 211 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

When the riders line up at the start of the stage they will know they are competing a legendary stage, full of historical reference and cycling lore.

The Col du Télégraphe is followed by the mighty Col du Galibier and just when the riders legs are nicely warmed up the race has its dramatic finish on the “Dutch Mountain,” the Alpe d’Huez.

To visit a great site on Mountain climbs click here.

Courtesy Francis & Sheila's Virtual Alps

The Col du Galiber has been a feature of the race since 1911 when Emile Georget (Fra) was the first man over the top.

Tour organiser Desgranges was delighted that the Tour had conquered the mighty mountain and the following day in the l'Auto he was even more verbose than normal:

"Today, my brothers, we gather here in common celebration of the divine bicycle. Not only do we owe it our most pious gratitude for the precious and ineffable love that it has given us, but also for the host of memories sown over our whole sports life and which today has made concrete.

"In my own case I love it for its having given me a soul capable of appreciating it; I love it for having taken my heart within its spokes, for having encircled a part of my life within its harmonious frame, and for having constantly illuminated me with the victorious sparkle of its nickel plates.

"In the history of humanity, does it not constitute the first successful effort of intelligent life to triumph over the laws of weights?"

However the Mighty Galibier has also seen its moments of tragedy. In 1935 Francisco Cepeda Died after a fall an the decent of the Galibier.

In comparison, the Alpe d’Huez is a newcomer to the Tour - first climbed and won in 1952 by the legendary Fausto Coppi, the mountain has become a pivotal point in the race.

Armstrong will be hoping once again to establish his dominance on the mountain, but his team may have to work extremely hard to keep the race under control before they hit the final climb of the day.

A day of sheer drama and legend; when the dust has settled those still in contention will probably be counted on one hand.


Winners on the Alpe d’Huez

Year Starting Point Distance (kms) Winner

1952 Lausanne (CH) 266 Coppi, Fausto I

1976 Divonne-les-Bai 258 Zoetemelk, Joop NL

1977 Chamonix-Mont-B 184 Kuiper, Hennie NL

1978 St. Etienne 241 Kuiper, Hennie(1) NL

1979 Les Menuires 167 Agostinho, Joaquim POR

1979 Alpe d'Huez 119 Zoetemelk, Joop NL

1981 Morzine 230 Winnen, Peter NL

1982 Orcières-Merlet 123 Breu, Beat CH

1983 La Tour-du-Pin 223 Winnen, Peter NL

1984 Grenoble 151 Herrera, Luis COL

1986 Briançon 163 Hinault, Bernard F

1987 Villard-de-Lans 201 Echave, Fédérico E

1988 Morzine 227 Rooks, Steven NL

1989 Briançon 162 Theunisse, Gert-Jan NL

1990 St. Gervais 183 Bugno, Gianni I

1991 Gap 125 Bugno, Gianni I

1992 Sestrières (I) 187 Hampsten, Andrew USA

1994 Valreas 225 Conti, Roberto I

1995 Aime LaPlagne 166 Marco Pantani I

1997 St. Etienne 203 Marco Pantani I

1999 Sestrières (I) 218 Guerini, Giuseppe I

2001 Aix-les-Bains 209 Armstrong, Lance USA

Part Three: Tour de France Parcours
Stages 9 and 10, Simoni's verdict on the Alpes and a rest day quiz...

Parcours Part Three

Stage 9 - July 14: Bourg d'Oisans to Gap, 184.5 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

After the struggles on the Alpe d’Huez this year's Tour will prove that stage racing is all about recovery with an intriguing stage for Bastille day.

Not only will the French riders be full of determination to do well on their National day but the parcours could lead to one of the most interesting days of the race.

The riders start the Cat One climb of the Col du Lauteret almost from the gun. The climb is not steep but 1,300 metres of climbing could well split the peloton - to have riders left behind so early in a stage could lead to many riders failing to make the time cut at the end of the stage, particularly those who have not recovered from the previous days exertions. Things don’t get any easier when after passing through Europe's highest town at Briancon they then tackle the legendary Col d’Izoard.

To visit a great site on Mountain climbs click here.

Courtesy Francis & Sheila's Virtual Alps

The Hors Categorie climb comes after 86.5 kilometres into the 184 kilometre stage - the big question is will any high ranked rider have the audacity to launch an attack so early into the stage? If so race fans will be in for a rare treat as the last rolling 100 kilometres also take in two climbs , St Apollinaire and Côte de La Rochette.

Either way it promises to be a stage of high drama, and heartache for those sprinters unable to make the time limit.

Meanwhile, Gilberto Simoni has been training on these roads recently - this is his verdict.

Team Saeco's recognition of the three alpine stages of the Tour de France ended today after two days of hard riding.

The winner of the recent Giro d'Italia first checked out the stage seven of the Tour to Morzine on Wednesday with team mates Di Luca, Sacchi and Pugaci, with full back up from directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, mechanic Giuseppe Archetti and soigneur Massimiliano Napolitano.

Simoni rode the last 120km of the stage and then rode an extra 40km with Sacchi to complete the day's training. Naturally all their attention was on the final climb the Col de la Ramaz: "A really tough climb, which I didn't know and so was vital to see," Martinelli said.

The first part of today was spent looking at the early section of the stage to L'Alpe d'Huez. After 80km by car, Simoni and his team mates rode the last 110km of the stage climbing the Telegraphe, the Galibier and L'Alpe d'Huez. Before heading back to Italy Simoni and Martinelli also studied the final part of the Col de Lautaret which is part of the ninth stage to Gap. They also rode the Izoard before a quick trip to see the last two short climbs.

"It was an excellent trip," Simoni said at the end of the sun-baked two-day visit to France.

"I felt good and was pedalling well. We did the climbs and descents without worrying about the speed, the most important thing was to study the key points of the stages and memorise them."

Simoni has no doubts about which is the hardest Alpine stage: "The stage to Morzine is hard but is only a warm-up for the following day to L'Alpe d'Huez. That's the most difficult stage of all and it's where I think there will be big time gaps. The stage over the Izoard is not as tough but with heavy legs it could still hurt."

Courtesy Francis & Sheila's Virtual Alps

Stage 10 - July 15: Gap - Marseille, 210 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

So after three days of high drama , tired legs and mountains the peloton takes a southerly descent down to the sea.

With the rest day looming and enough gaps in the general classification expect to see many breakaway attempts by low placed riders throughout the stage.

Whether the sprinters' teams will have the strength left to chase them all down remains to be seen, but certainly it could be the day for the great escape to succeed. Meanwhile, safe in the peloton, the handful of riders still in for a chance for the yellow jersey will be protected by their team mates and given an easy ride as possible.

Courtesy Saeco

Rest Day - July 16:

A rest day that some riders will enjoy and others find a nuisance as it will break their rhythm.

Daily Peloton Readers can while away their time with this little quiz. 10 questions in all - the answers are at the bottom of the page (no peeking!)

Rest Day Quiz

Question 1 - No prizes for identifying the rider but name the year and stage of this Tour de France win for this Texan fellah.

Question 2 - A Panda with spots! What year was the polka dot jersey introduced to the race and who was the first rider to win it?

Question 3 - Name the two Postmen leading the way.

Question 4 - Name the German and French rider - which one took yellow after this stage?

Question 5 - When asked by a reporter on what he thinks about on the bike he replied, "Dairy Queen, God I dream about Dairy Queen." Who said that?

Question 6 - Who holds the record for best young rider white jersey wins?

Question 7 - Europe Sans Frontières - During the Tour de France of 1992, the parcours crossed European borders seven times. Everytime the riders had to pass one of them, a special intermediate sprint was held. Who won the competition?

Question 8 - International Arm wrestling? Who is Lance Armstrong flexing muscles with?

Question 9 - Only one rider has ridden all three major Tours in one year and won one of them. Who was that then?

Question 10 - Who has the most podium finishes in the Tour de France (positions 1, 2 and 3 overall)?

Rest Day Answers

Question 1: Lance Armstrong from the USA and riding for the US Postal team celebrates as he collected his third stage win of the 2001 Tour de France during Stage 13 from Foix to St. Lary Soulan, France.

Question 2: The Polka Dot Jersey itself was introduced in 1975. The first rider to win it was Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk.

Question 3: Steffen Kjaergaard from Norway leads US Postal Service team mate George Hincapie.

Question 4: Jens Voigt, left, from Germany and riding for Credit Agricole crosses the finish line in second place for the day ahead of Laurent Roux of the Jean Delatour team as Voigt captured the yellow jersey during stage seven of the 2001 Tour de France from Strasbourg to Colmar, France.

Question 5: Greg Lemond (European readers will be disappointed to learn that “Dairy Queen” is apparently a USA café chain!)

Question 6: Jan Ullrich

Question 7: Viatcheslav Ekimov

Question 8: Roberto Laiseka

Question 9: 1957 Gastone Nencini (Ita) (1st in Giro, 6th in Tour de France, 9th in Vuelta Espana)

Question 10: Poulidor. 8 times in the top three - 1962/3-1964/2-1965/2-1966/3-1969/3- 1972/3-1974/2-1976/3.


Tour de France Parcours Part Four - Stages 11-15: Click here.

Tour de France Parcours Part Five - Rest Day #2 Quiz - Click here.

See related Tour articles here:
Tour de France - Lance Armstrong - Red Hot Favourite
Tour de France - Newspapers Part One

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