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
The 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.
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 Bornand||Julian Alaphilippe||2018|
|Albertville - St Gervais||Romain Bardet||2016|
|Lyon - Morzine||Richard Virenque||2003|
|Courchevel - Morzine||Richard Virenque||2000|
|Bourg d'Oisans - Morzine||Thierry Claveyrolat||1991|
|Genève - St Gervais||Thierry Claveyrolat||1990|
|Bourg d'Oisans - Morzine||Jacques Michaud||1983|
|Thonon - Morzine||Jacques Michaud||1981|
|Serre Chevalier - Morzine||Mariano Martinez||1980|
|Évian - Avoriaz||Bernard Hinault||1979|
|Grenoble - Morzine||Christian Seznec||1978|
|Besançon - Thonon||Bernard Quilfen||1977|
|Thonon - Chamonix||Roger Pingeon||1969|
|Val d'Isère - Chamonix||Jacques Anquetil||1963|
|Besançon - Thonon||Jacques Anquetil||1957|
|Belfort - Évian||Maurice Archambaud||1936|
|Belfort - Évian||Georges Speicher||1934|
|Grenoble - Évian||André Leducq||1930|
|Grenoble - Évian||Julien Moineau||1928|
|Belfort - Chamonix||Eugène Christophe||1912|
|Belfort - Chamonix||Charles Crupelandt||1911|
Tour de France news
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 Morzine – Megève stage.
The 2021 edition
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.