173KM | 3,700M+ · Monday 21st August
We’d like to call this a 4-1/2 star day: not quite a 5 star, but definitely a tough one. Wave goodbye to the sea and enjoy the first few kilometres of flat: almost the last you will see until the final stretch along the shores of Lake Geneva in 7 days time. But there are a few mountains to climb first…
It will take a while to get out of Nice, especially as the first 20km up the river valley to Carros will be neutralised. The event gets started here, as we attack the first few switchbacks and climb up above the river to Gilette and on to Ascros (1,160m), 30km away and 1100m higher up. The road is typically Provençale, climbing steadily though a dry, rocky landscape with little shade from the scattered trees and scrub. The professionals came down this road on Stage 6 of Paris-Nice in March 2016; this is where Andrew Talansky fell and had to abandon.
There is a remarkable 12th century castle in Ascros, take a look before starting the descent. After 17km of descent, we are back to the banks of the river Var, now some 400m above sea level. We follow it for the next 60km, almost to the summit of the Col de la Cayolle (2,326m).
The serious climbing starts in Entraunes, from where you will have 14.5km to climb at an average of almost 8%. The road is spectacular, criss-crossing the narrow valley, diving in and out of short tunnels. Be prepared to suffer and make sure you drink enough, especially if it is hot!
Enjoy an exhilarating, sinuous descent for 20km until Uvernet-Fours and the final climb to the finish in Pra Loup. These last 6km would normally be easy, but after 167km and 3300m they are likely to be anything but… The slope averages “only” 6.5% but varies between 5% and 8%. Save some energy so you can finish!
Nice, land of cycling
Capital of the French Riviera, 5th largest city in France (350’000), 2nd most popular tourism destination (over 5 million visitors) and 2nd largest airport in France (11 million passengers), Nice benefits from its unique climate and high level of accessibility to make it a destination-city for international sports events in France.
Home to the Ice Skating World Championships in 2012, 2013 Jeux de la Francophonie, Sailing Tour de France in 2014, European Masters Games in 2015 and the Euro 2016 this summer; Nice is the go-to destination for sports events in France. Cycling has held an important place as well in Nice’s history, home to the celebrated Paris-Nice for over 70 years, as well as the memorable Team Time-Trial during the 2013 Tour de France and the annual Transvésubienne 100km VTT raid race from La Colmiane.
From sea to sky, Nice’s countryside is a formidable natural playground for cycling – whether it is on the road or off-road the terrain provides exceptional riding and some testing roads for all types of cyclists. The Haute Route from Nice to Geneva plays an important role in making Nice such a vibrant cycling destination, with the first two stages providing an opportunity once again to discover some of the best cols in the area. The ski station of Auron has become an attractive destination for VTT lovers, especially since it hosted the French Championships in 2013 as well as the Salon du VTT since 2014. The iconic Col de la Bonette (2715m) on stage 2 will take riders over the highest road in Europe, and this unique setting is where they will bid farewell to the French Riviera and cycle onwards into the Alpes de Haute Provence and towards Geneva.