- The race 2011
- All about the race
Rue du Pré Vicinal, Espace Culturel Paul Eluard by night© Sylvie Bascoul
• Stage town for the first time
• 16, 100 inhabitants
• Commune of Upper Garonne (31)
Situated 10 kilometres from the Capitole and central Toulouse, Cugnaux is the sixth biggest town in the Haute-Garonne in terms of population. Half urban, half country town, symbolised by the town’s communal gardens, it’s both a pleasant place to live and to visit, and has roved it, too, thanks to two environmental prizes and having been awarded a ’flower’ at the 2010 Concours de Villes et Villages Fleuris – an annual competition which rewards French towns’ floral displays. Cugnaux’s strong economy is reflected by the 400 businesses who call the town’s 280-hectare industrial zone home. Culture is given equal importance through the Artempo arts fair, the Festimanoir theatre and music festival as well as a programme made up of another 50 arts events through the year. As for sport, Cugnaux – home to former footballer Daniel Bravo – is also a big fan, with more than 4,000 people regularly taking part, with a sports club which covers 17 sports. Environnent, culture and sport: life is good in Cugnaux.
The town is situated near Toulouse, which has often been used by the peloton as the gateway to the Pyrenees. In 1985 for example, a stage was mapped out right between the pink city and Luz-Ardiden. On that day, the wearer of the Yellow Jersey, Bernard Hinault began the most agonizing crossing of the Pyrenees of his career. Weakened by a serious fall three days earlier in Saint-étienne, the leader of the La Vie Claire team lost more than 4 minutes on the winner at the summit, Pascal Delgado and a long minute on Greg LeMond, his team mate and his first challenger in the general classification.
Luz-Saint-Sauveur: Pont Napoléon© Office du Tourisme Luz Ardiden
• Stage site on 7 previous occasions
• Winter sports resort of the Upper Pyrenees (65)
• Part of the commune of Luz-Saint-Sauveur (1, 100 inhabitants)
Luz-Ardiden (altitude 1,680-2,500 metres) is a resort that caters for everyone. Skiers of all abilities are kept happy thanks to 65km of ski-run, a superb infrastructure, a snow park, two ski schools, bars and restaurants at the bottom of the ski-run and a crèche – and all that, plus a snow guarantee thanks to 110 snow canons. And just a few minutes from the resort, at the foot of the Gavarnie natural amphitheatre, in the heart of the Néouvielle national park, Luz Saint-Sauveur provides the ideal spot for lovers of beautiful views to take a break and savour the atmosphere in this famous climbing area. It’s also the perfect place to be reminded that this is an area where cattle breeders practise their art, so why not titillate your taste-buds with some local lamb.
Those interested in old stones may want to explore, via the winding streets, the twelfth-century fortified church of the Templars or the ruins of the tenth-century château Sainte-Marie. Or head to the Pont Napoléon where thrill-seekers can bungee jump or rock climb on the ’via ferrata’
The arrivals in the Pyrenean resort regularly give rise to brilliant performances and noteworthy surprises. After Bernard Hinault’s ordeal in 1985, Claudio Chiappucchi also experienced a few setbacks, while he was wearing the Yellow Jersey in 1990. Following the attack of LeMond, he only had a 5 second lead in the general classification, whereas Miguel Indurain had just won the second mountain stage of his career! It was in Luz-Ardiden, four years later, that Richard Virenque’s run of luck in the mountains began thanks to his first stage win. And during the 2003 edition, Lance Armstrong had to get up after a fall in the ascent and overcome a series of frights before making it to the summit first.