The 2016 Tour du France rolls across a key stage of the Hiker’s Haute Route and Tour du Mont Blanc this summer. It also finishes in Berne, Switzerland, a popular city break for many of our guests. If you’re hiking or traveling independently in one of these areas in late July, then this might be a great opportunity to catch a stage of the biggest bike race on earth.
HHR + TMB= TDF.
Stage 17 of the Tour crosses the famous HHR and TMB hiking trails on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. The race will roll out of Berne, Switzerland around noon. Then the race heads south through Zweisimmen; over the Côte de Saanenmöser; past the village of Château-d’Oex; over the Col des Mosses; and down to the villages of Aigle, Bex and Saint Maurice. The peloton joins up with the HHR and the TMB when the cyclists sprint into Martigny and really pour on the gas for the 12.6 km climb (8.2% grade) over the Col de la Forclaz. The Col de la Forclaz is a popular overnight stop for our guests on both hiking tours, but the cyclists won’t sip cocktails with any hikers. Rather, they’ll tuck into the drops and maximize their speed down sharp switchbacks to the tiny village of Trient, Switzerland, another popular stop on the Hiker’s Haute Route and Tour du Mont Blanc. Trient will fly by like a blurry fence post on an airport runway, then it’s a drag race up the final climb to Finhaut-Emosson, a 10.4 kilometer climb with an 8.4% grade.
It’s interesting to note that the last time a race followed this route, it destroyed the peloton, and riders straggled across the finish line in ones and twos. It should be a great stage.
Other opportunities to see Le Tour in Switzerland.
Stage 17 begins in Berne, Switzerland, but Stage 16 finishes in Berne two days earlier, on Monday, July 18. It’s a short and steep cobbled climb to the finish, perfect for punchy riders like Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara’s home sits just a few kilometers away in Wohlen bei Bern. A Swiss cyclist on home roads? It’s hard to imagine that he won’t try something special.
Tuesday, July 19 is a rest day for the cyclists and they’ll stay in Berne. There will be a TON going on in town. The cafés will be going crazy, music will be playing and the cycling teams will be going for easy spins along nearby roads. There will also be a great opportunity to see the infrastructure and crazy carnival atmosphere that surrounds the race.
Berne is the capital of Switzerland, and a really fun city to explore. It’s also a popular changeover for trains heading between Zurich and the Berner Oberland. If you’re in the area, or even just passing through between July 18 and 20, then make some time in your schedule to check out the Tour. It really is the greatest bike race on earth.
Monday, July 18, 2016. Tour de France finishes in Berne, Switzerland (late afternoon).
Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Tour de France rest day in Berne. A very festive atmosphere in town.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Tour de France departs Berne around noon. Tour de France crosses the Hiker’s Haute Route and Tour du Mont Blanc to finish in Finhaut (late afternoon).
Photo: The Maillot Jaune ascending the slopes of the Port de Balès during the 2014 Tour du France | Pyrenees, France
By Chris Pranskatis