Tour de France

The Tour de France is an international professional cycling race. Riders regularly cross the Alps and the Haute-Savoie department to take on France’s greatest mountain passes.

The history of the Tour de France

tour de france 1903The Tour de France, or Grande Boucle as it is known, was created in 1903. At the time, former cyclist Henri Desgranges was looking to boost sales of the newspaper he had just launched. Journalist Géo Lefèvre suggested he set up a bicycle race around France.

And so, on 1 July 1903, the very first start of the Grande Boucle took place in Montgeron. On the programme were 6 stages and almost 2,500 kilometres to cover. It was Frenchman Maurice Garin who came out on top.

A Tour de France affected by war

Just as the Tour de France was beginning to grow, its development was interrupted by the First World War. It resumed in 1919, but the enthusiasm for the event was not the same as before the Great War. It was not until seven years later, with Henri Pélissier’s victory, that the French once again took an interest in the Grande Boucle.

In 1930, the rules of the race were changed to restore its splendour. National teams and a publicity caravan were introduced. That same year, the Tour de France was broadcast for the first time.

But the death of Henri Desgranges in 1940, during the Second World War, brought the race to a further halt. It did not resume until 1947, under the aegis of L’Équipe and Le Parisien Libéré, two recently created newspapers.

An event of international renown

Since its resumption in 1947, the Tour de France has gone from strength to strength. Now internationally renowned, it welcomes the world’s best cyclists. And the excitement surrounding this cycling race is second to none. Spectators of all nationalities follow the riders, whether on television or by following the route of the Grande Boucle.

Sud Ouest

The Tour de France and Haute-Savoie

The Tour de France regularly passes through Haute-Savoie. It was in 1911 that the Grande Boucle stopped off in the département for the first time. In Chamonix to be precise. Since then, the riders have climbed the Côte Bernard Hinault, the Col de Joux Plane and the ascent to the Plateau des Glières.

The major passes of Haute-Savoie and Savoie

Haute-Savoie, and perhaps even more so Savoie, are two departments renowned for their major passes. Some of them, like the Galibier, are classed out of category in the Tour de France.

  • Col de la Colombière – 16.3 km with an average gradient of 6.8
  • Col de Joux Plane – 11.1 km at 8.91%.
  • Col du Galibier – 34.9 km with an average gradient of 5.5
  • Col de la Croix de Fer – 28.20 km with an average gradient of 5.23
  • The Col de l’Iseran – 48 km at 4.1
  • Le Cormet de Roselend – 20.3 km with 1,240 metres of total ascent

There’s also the famous Bernard Hinault climb at Domancy, where the French cyclist was crowned World Champion. Less than 3 kilometres long, it has an average gradient of 8.5% and small peaks of 16%.

Stages won by French riders in Haute-Savoie

Over the years, French riders have won in Haute-Savoie. Here is a summary of these stages:

Annecy - Grand BornandJulian Alaphilippe2018
Albertville - St Gervais Romain Bardet2016
Lyon - MorzineRichard Virenque2003
Courchevel - MorzineRichard Virenque2000
Bourg d'Oisans - MorzineThierry Claveyrolat1991
Genève - St GervaisThierry Claveyrolat1990
Bourg d'Oisans - MorzineJacques Michaud1983
Thonon - MorzineJacques Michaud1981
Serre Chevalier - MorzineMariano Martinez1980
Évian - AvoriazBernard Hinault1979
Grenoble - MorzineChristian Seznec1978
Besançon - ThononBernard Quilfen1977
Thonon - ChamonixRoger Pingeon1969
Val d'Isère - ChamonixJacques Anquetil1963
Besançon - Thonon Jacques Anquetil1957
Belfort - ÉvianMaurice Archambaud1936
Belfort - ÉvianGeorges Speicher1934
Grenoble - ÉvianAndré Leducq1930
Grenoble - ÉvianJulien Moineau1928
Belfort - ChamonixEugène Christophe1912
Belfort - ChamonixCharles Crupelandt1911

Tour de France news

Past editions

The 2022 edition

In 2022, the Tour de France stopped off in Haute-Savoie on two consecutive days. From Aigle to Châtel, Bob Jungels won on 10 July. On 12 July, after a rest day, Magnus Cort Nielsen won the MorzineMegève stage.

The 2021 edition

In 2021, two stages were also completed by Tour de France cyclists. Oyonnax – Le Grand Bornand on July 3 and the ClusesTignes stage on July 4. Dylan Teuns and then Ben O’Connor won on both days.

The 2020 edition

In 2020, the year in which the Tour de France was turned upside down by the health crisis, the cyclists spent just one day in Haute-Savoie, finishing in La Roche-sur-Foron. Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski won the race.