Verbier awaits the Tour de France
15th July 2009
It arrives on Sunday and preparations are in full swing for the biggest sporting event the Swiss resort has ever seen. PlanetSKI reports.
It is impossible not to know Le Tour is coming.
Posters are plastered all over town, the road up the mountain has been re-surfaced in places, the valley is adorned with advertising hoardings and even the flower beds have been re-arranged to welcome the cyclists and the huge entourage that escorts them.
Preparations were briefly overshadowed by an outbreak of swine flu at a school right by the finish area, but health officials have quarantined the building and pronounced it safe.The town is a buzz with excitement and pretty much all the accommodation is full. Many shops, bars and restaurants that are usually closed at this time of year have opened for business.
Even the resort’s most famous night-club, The Farm, will be open, it’s thought to be the first time it has ever opened in the summer.
“Everybody in Verbier is really excited with the arrival of the Tour de France. There will be a big party where everybody is going to celebrate the champions of this very thorough race, which is at the same time a big show,” says Pierre-Yves Deleze who is deputy director of Tourism and on the organising committee.
“I hope the weather will play the game, so that magnificent pictures of Verbier can be broadcasted all over the world. For me, as for the whole organising committee, this will be the culmination of one year of very hard work. We hope the result will match our expectations!”
It’s estimated around 150,000 people will line the route along the valley floor from Martigny to Le Chable, before the riders tackle the 8.5km up to the resort.This week dozens and dozens of club and recreational cyclists have been riding up the steep and twisty mountain road.
Some just to see if they can do it and others no doubt timing it so they can compare themselves against the world’s best.
The last time the Tour de France came to a Swiss ski resort was Crans Montana, 24 years ago, and Verbier is certainly making the most of its day in the sporting spotlight.
We reported earlier in the summer on the event, so see here for further background information.
Here at PlanetSKI we are in town and will be reporting on all the action and what it means for the Swiss resort to host one of the gruelling mountain stages.
So check back for the build up to the 15th stage as it travels from Pontarlier to Verbier, 207.5km
It promises to be quite a day.