03 May 2019 by Jessica Boston
Tour de France 2019 – Here we go again!
It’s almost time for the most exciting cycling race of the year! The 2019 Tour de France kicks off on 6th July with 21 gruelling stages taking the riders through the beautiful countryside of France.
This year the race starts in Belgium and snakes down the Eastern border of France as far as Belfort before slicing right across the country to the Pyrenees mountains in the South Western corner. It’s back east for the final stages as the peloton passes from Nimes up into the Alps, and the race culminates, as always, with the final euphoric journey to the finish line on the Champs Elysee in Paris on 28th July.
The Tour de France is an exhilarating event for spectators; there is so much at play from sheer physical strength and agility to team tactics, comradery and competition. Almost anything could happen as around 176 riders in 22 teams push the limits of speed and endurance on the roads of France. It’s a huge event and something very special to witness whether you’re a sports fan or not.
The biggest free sporting event in the world
Our Properties Adviser, Nancy Perry, caught the Tour de France bug from her husband who was a cycling enthusiast, and after an initial taste of Le Tour when it came to the UK in 1994 she’s now spectated at 17 different Tour de France stages over the years that include time trials, starts, finishes, mountain stages and the grand Paris finish. “The party atmosphere in the places on the route is just amazing” says Nancy. “They are so thrilled and proud to be part of the tour and there are street parties in people’s gardens, fans and families lining the road and a real sense of excitement. Everyone is so friendly and no matter where you are from or which team you support everyone is there to celebrate together and enjoy the biggest free sporting event in the world!”
Get insider info from your hosts
Holiday property owners can be a great help in discovering the best of the Tour de France. On staying with a Pyrenees B&B owner who shared their passion for the race, Nancy and her husband decided to return for Le Tour the following year when the owners were able to give them the inside scoop on how, and where to see the local stage. “We were on our motorbike and our friend had told us where to go using back roads to reach the stage start. When we arrived it was so hot! We really wanted to cross over onto the shady side of the road, but it was all cordoned off as the ‘backstage’ area. We asked one of the officials and she gave us some wristbands that allowed us access into the cordoned off section! It was amazing! All the teams and support crews were there, I even got a photo with one of the French riders!”
When you go to see the Tour de France it’s not just about seeing the peloton pass by, the atmosphere and spectacle of the whole parade that goes with it is all part of the experience! However if it’s actual cycling you want to see, a Time Trial is a great place to do it. With each rider racing individually against the clock from a staggered start you can see every competitor clearly as they pass, and enjoy hours of cycling from one vantage point. “We saw the individual time trials at Mont St Michel in 2013 and it was incredible! It took around four hours for all the riders to pass by” says Nancy.
The other way to maximise the cycling action you witness is to see a few different parts of the race over a couple of days during your holiday. “I’m not able to go this year unfortunately, but if I could i’d be looking to see the Pyrenees stages”, Nancy explains, “I’d plan to see the end of Stage 12 as they come into Bagnéres-de-Bigorre, Stage 13 which is the exciting individual Time Trial in Pau, and the iconic hill climb at the end of Stage 14 up Col du Tourmalet; it’s one of the steepest parts of the route and a real fight for the best climbers in the race”.
There’s still time to book a holiday property on or near the 2019 Tour de France route. At time of writing we’ve got property with availability for Le Tour close to Stages 12-15! Plan your trip now with Nancy’s top tips to make the most of your Tour de France adventure:
1. See a Time Trial
The time trial stages showcase each rider against the clock in succession with a support vehicle behind each showing their name so you can appreciate the amazing speed and skill of every individual in the race. Get there early to see the riders exploring the course before racing starts and enjoy a whole day of cycling.
2. Plan ahead
The exact roads for the route are announced near the race date and the road closures are planned and publicised. Be sure to check and plan the best way to get to the action, your holiday property owner may be able to offer some advice. Roads close many hours before the race and you don’t want to be caught out and miss it!
3. Be prepared
You’ll be out all day so you’ll want to go prepared with food and drink, something comfy to sit on and protection against the weather – a hat, sunscreen and even a sunshade would be a good idea!
4. See a stage start
The start of each stage is especially exciting. Take your place early for a good view of the riders warming up before the race, and to enjoy the carnival procession of the Tour’s Caravan of sponsors’ vehicles that bring the party with music, fun and freebies a couple of hours before the riders race by.
5. Wear your team colours
Pick your team to support with flags, team shirts and banners. The team officials and riders love to see their fans and will wave to you and maybe even come to greet you after the race stage is done.
Properties near the route:
Stage 13 – Pau (Individual Time Trial), Friday 19th July
Stage 15 – Limoux to Foix, Sunday 21st July