Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tour de France 2009 in Verbier

We are lucky enough to be in Switzerland for the Tour de France to pay a visit. Two legs (15 and 16) of the race are in Switzerland, and we decided it would be fun to go to Verbier to watch the finish of leg 15 as they raced up the hill.
Of course this is a big event, so we abandoned the idea of driving there in favour of public transport, but even this was a bit of a challenge as the cable car up the mountain to Verbier couldn't keep up with the volume of people arriving to watch the race.
Since we were already catching a cable car, and the race wasn't due to start for several hours, we decided we might as well continue all the way to the top of Verbier, to Mont Fort (3300m).
Several cable cars later we were at the top. The view from Mont Fort was pretty amazing, and we could see two alpine lakes and some glaciers between breaks in the clouds.
We then headed back down the mountain and although we were tempted to spend more time walking around the alpine fields, we also didn't want to miss the race we had come to watch!
We got back down to the village of Verbier and walked down the hill towards the road where the riders would be finishing. We eventually found a really good spot near a hair-pin bend and camped out waiting for the racers to come past.
Needless to say I took many hundreds of photos of the riders. You can just click through the ones shown here to find a whole bunch more.
Of course it all happened quite quickly for the first few riders in the lead, but then the straggling groups kept on coming and while the leaders were cruising back down the hill after the race there was still some riders on the way up. We spotted Lance Armstrong only because he was the only rider with a bodyguard.
After the race we decided to walk down the hill to Le Châble where the train leaves from, since we figured the cablecar would be overloaded again, but the walk was a little longer than we anticipated and by the time we got to the bottom we were quite tired!
We just missed one train, since we were off buying racing memorabilia, and ended up sitting around a good long time before the next one departed. We got home tired but very satisfied with a day of mountains and bike racing.

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