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92nd Tour de France Route Analysis: Part Two
By Podofdonny
Date: 11/9/2004
92nd Tour de France Route Analysis: Part Two

The 2005 Tour route. Courtesy ASO.

Read Part One of the 2005 Tour Route Analysis (Stages One through Six) here, read about the Tour route presentation here and please visit the official Tour website.

Stage 7: July 8

Lunéville to Karlsruhe, 225 km

Lunéville welcomes the Tour for only the second time, although La Tour is always associated with the town. Georges La Tour, the 17th Century artist who is famous for his candlelit subjects, lived in Lunéville, the town is nicknamed Le "Petit Versailles" and was a favourite residence of the Polish king in France, Stanislas Leszczynski. In 1964 Willy Derboven won a sprint from 5 breakaways who had gained 4 minutes on the peloton. However, the finish into the German town of Karlsruhe will mean theat the T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner teams will be keen for a local victory.

Karlsruhe holds a special place in cycling history for it is here that Karl Friedrich Drais von Sauerbronn invented the "Laufmaschine" or "Running Machine," a type of pre-bicycle. The steerable Laufmaschine was made entirely of wood and had no pedals; a rider would push his/her feet against the ground to make the machine go forward. Sauerbronn's bicycle was first exhibited in Paris on April 6, 1818.


Stage 8: July 9

Pforzheim to Gérardmer, 235 km

Expect huge crowds as the tour visits Germany. Photo by Daily Peloton.

The Tour continues in Germany, starting in the jewel of the northern Black Forest in Pforsheim, a town which saw both a finish and start of the race in 1987. The Tour visits German in recognition of the huge growth in popularity of the sport there; expect to see huge enthusiastic crowds throughout the German route. However, the race returns to France and will head along the valley floor of the Plaine d’Alsace before heading into the more mountainous Vosges region and ending in Gérardmer. The town, famous for its lake and tourism, greets the Tour for the first time, and the local fans may well see a breakaway of small punchy climbers keep the sprinters at bay.

After 8 days of racing, and the first real climbing test fast approaching, it will be a difficult day for the team managers and support vehicles as they try to ensure that their men get the best help possible.

Team Cars in the 1951 Tour – note the spare wheels on the front of the cars…

Stage 9: July 10

Gerardmer to Mulhouse, 170 km

Stage 9 profile, courtesy ASO.

The first real test of mountain legs. By no means a stage where one could win the Tour but the unlucky or unwary could lose their chance of a good overall place. The climbs come thick and fast from the start and they are -

Col de Grosse Pierre (955 m): 3,1 km à 6,4%
Col de Bramont (956 m): 3,4 km à 6,5%
Le Grand Ballon (1338 m): 21,9 km à 3,6%
Col de Bussang (731 m): 6,2 km à 4,5% and Le Ballon d'Alsace (1171 m): 9,1 km à 6,8%.

Once over the Ballon d'Alsace there is a long run in to Mulhouse, which may well see some desperate chasing by riders who have had first day mountain legs. Mulhouse will see a stage finish for the thirteenth time and it was here that Lance Armstrong sealed his 2000 victory with a stunning time trial preformance.

However, the stage will be more remembered for exploits 100 years ago. In 1905, the Ballon d'Alsace saw the Tour's first major climb and the first man in the history of the sport to gain recognition for his climbing skills, René Pottier.

Pottier shook off rivals Trousselier, Cornet and Hippolyte Aucouturier with 5 kilometres to the summit, which he made to the top without dismounting. His climbing skills astonished the public as this contemporary report shows –

"With a speed of 20 km/h, René Pottier conquered the Ballon d'Alsace. We accompanied this rider with the heart of a bulldog for a full day as he undertook this outstanding yet monotonous mission. What mysterious strength does the human organism possess that allows it to push the boundaries of the possible so far?"

Yet if “the butcher” René Pottier (many early riders were nicknamed after their pre-cycling professions) was to become the first ever King of the Mountains (although official classification did not start until 1934 and the Polka dot jersey made its first appearance in 1975), then it is Hippolyte Aucouturier who will be forever remembered as the first legendary descender. Pottier punctured on the descent and Aucouturier, descending like a mad man, caught and passed him, and with a chivalry that modern day giants should well note, gave Pottier a spare inner tube as he went by. He won the first ever mountain stage in the Tour de France by nearly ten minutes.

René Pottier was forced to abandon the 1905 Tour the following day after his epic ride up the Ballon d'Alsace, suffering from tendonitis. However in 1906 he returned and dominated the race. He won five stages and the overall and even had time for a little a little eccentricity. Ahead of his competitors by more than an hour, he stopped at a roadside cafe for a bottle of vin de pays.

Sadly, six months after winning the Tour, Pottier placed his medals neatly by his bike and then hung himself from the hook he used to hang his bike from. Rumours that he had killed himself due to his wife's infidelity were never poven, but it was a sad end to a glorious tale. A statue was erected in his memory in 1908 and the riders of 2005 will pass by and will be able to give their respects to one of the early legends of the sport.

In the Tour de France, an annual race of 5000 km, organised by l'Auto, RENÉ POTTIER 1879-1907 arrived first at this place in 1905-1906 where he maintained, in the climb of the Ballon d'Alsace, an average speed of 20 km/hr and crushed all his opponents.

Courtesy Pass a Pass, Edwin Seldenthuis.

The Ballon d’Alsace will be climbed for the 25th time in 2005 and other riders first to the top include Raphaël Géminiani (Fra), Lucien Aimar (Fra) and Eddy Merckx (Bel).

Rest Day: 11th July

Time to look at the pictures of the caravan, mechanics, and other Tour people.

Photo by Dave O’Nyons.


Photo by Dave O’Nyons.


Photo by Dave O’Nyons.


Photo by Dave O’Nyons.

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92nd Tour de France Route Presentation - Updated
92nd Tour de France Route Analysis Part One

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