- The race 2011
- All about the race
Field of lavender© Ville de Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux
• Stage town for the first time
• 8, 600 inhabitants
• Cantonal subdivision of Drôme (26)
Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux is a charming village in the Drôme Provençale, which nestles among vineyards, truffle oaks and fields of lavender, and manages to combine heritage, the land, authenticity and conviviality. Beneath it, the village’s former inhabitants have left behind a number of relics from the prehistoric age, from antiquity and the middle Ages. The mediaeval cathedral, a remarkable example of Roman architecture, is emblematic of the town, sitting majestically in the centre of the village. Inside the city walls, you will discover a host of attractions: mansions, charming little squares adorned with fountains and outdoor cafes. Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux is also a gastronomic delight, best known for its truffles, providing 60 per cent of France’s truffles to the market, as well as its wine (AOC wines from Grignan-les-Adhémar) and its many great restaurants. The influence of the village also goes beyond its walls – it’s also known for its children’s book festival, its soul jazz festival, its classical music festival – Les Musicales en Tricastin – and a film festival.
Although it will be hosting a stage of the Tour for the first time, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux was nevertheless a start town on the occasion of Paris-Nice and was one of the race’s highlights in 2009. Indeed, for the 6th stage, the set off from there heading for the Montagne de Lure for the main stage of the Race to the Sun. Alberto Contador was majestic in the final ascent. He won the stage and went into first position in the general classification, with a comfortable lead over Luis Leon Sanchez. However he lost the race the next day in the stage in Fayence because he was ravenous and was therefore completely drained. This led to the start of the endless discussion about the vulnerability of “El Pistolero”.
A giant human logo on the mountain© Eric Balavoine
• Stage town on 20 previous occasions
• 37, 785 inhabitants
• Prefecture of Hautes Alpes (05)
Principal city of the Hautes-Alpes – a département close to the hearts of cyclists who dream of testing themselves on the slopes of the mountain passes there – Gap is on the famous ’Route Napoléon’, and capital of the Southern Alps, mixing the pleasures of Provence with the pure Alpine air. It is best known today for its beautiful scenery, with the town surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails and perfect mountain bike routes. Nearby, the Gap-Tallard aerodrome is the ideal base for fans of aerial sports, with the surrounding area recognised internationally for its perfect air and wind conditions. The Céüse cliffs are also famous among climbers seeking the ultimate thrill. The golf course at Gap-Bayard offers stunning views of the 3,000-metre-high Vieux Chaillol, where fanatics of the little white ball game can enjoy the pure mountain air. When the Tour visited just last year, 1,000 locals climbed the 2,000-metre-high Charance to arrange themselves to create a giant version of the city’s logo for the French TV cameras.
The following image will be associated with the arrivals of the Tour in Gap forever. During the ninth stage of the 2009 Tour, four kilometres from the finish, in the descent from La Rochette, Joseba Beloki lost control of his bike after the tyre of his rear wheel exploded on a patch of melted tarmac, causing the Spanish cyclist to fall just in front of Lance Armstrong, who avoided falling by heading off the road to go downhill through the fields before rejoining the peloton. His acrobatic talents thus allowed the American rider to avoid a disaster and to go on to win the Tour de France for the fifth time.