Tour de France - Stage 10 : Morzine to Megève
Stage 10 of the 2022 Tour de France started in Morzine and finished 148.1 km later in Megeve. Even after 3 hours 18 minutes and 50 seconds, the race ended in an exciting photo finish between Magnus Cort, who was declared the winner, just ahead of Nick Schultz. In spite of the riders having a rest day prior to this stage, it was still one of the toughest tests of their stamina due to the four separate climbs with a total of 2733 vertical meters and the scorching temperature in excess of 32 degrees. Six years ago, it was raced in the opposite direction, and thus finishing in Morzine, but that time most of the race was undertaken in the pouring rain and far from the sweltering temperatures this year. It is worth noting that this year there was a free bus service from Les Gets to Morzine to ensure no one missed out on the action.
Mark standing on the Rue de Bourg watched the 161 riders set off from the centre of Morzine at 13:41 with Tadej Pogacar still in the yellow jersey (Photo 1). They headed through the town in a tightly packed peloton behind the pace car where they passed me (Photo 2). They then joined the Route des Grandes Alpes, which is the famous touring route between Nice on the Mediterranean coast and Thonon-les-Bains on Lac Leman, which passes through Les Gets. At this point the race was really underway, and the riders sped through Saint Jean D’Aulps in the direction of Thonon les Bains. They passed Les Gorges du Pont du Diable and on down the valley following all the twists and turns of the river. When staying in Les Gets, it is well worth visiting Les Gorges and following this route down to Thonon and Evian. It offers spectacular views of valleys branching off on either side of the rapid filled river which winds it’s way through the cliff escarpments that were sculpted by past glaciers. However, this would not have been on the riders’ minds as they negotiated the tight bends at unmentionable speeds.
Once they reached the roundabout next to the Adventures Rafting Centre they turned right and headed towards Abondance for several kilometers before cutting back towards Thonon les Bains, via a short climb over the Col de Chevenoz at a height of 807m. From there it was a fast descent down to Lake Leman followed by a climb over a distance of 6.7km to the Col de Jambaz. Once again, this was followed by a long descent through some stunning scenery passing through alpine villages such as Bellevaux, and small towns such as Onnion and Saint Jeoire, before arriving at the wide valley floor at Marignier. Instead of following the valley, they first had to take on the third of the stages climbs to the Cote de Chatillion sur Cluses before returning to the valley floor once again at Cluses.
From here, the next 30km of the race headed along side roads running parallel to the river and motorway in the direction of Sallanches and Chamonix. Unfortunately at Magland, with only 35km to go, the race was temporarily stopped for several minutes while Climate Change protestors were removed from the road. Fortunately, this short lived drama did not detract from the overall spectacle of the race itself, nor the ultimate exciting finish.
Once underway again, they raced to the fourth and final 19.3km ascent from Passey-Marllioz through Saint Gervais and finally up to Megeve, where the finish line was at the L’altiport de Megeve at a height of 1371m. Although not the steepest of climbs, there were still many sections over 5% but, it was the long steady ascent that drained the energy from the rider's legs to split the field further. Finally, it was the last 400m sprint that decided the stage winner, albeit by the narrowest of margins. Magnus Cort, the 29 year old rider from Denmark, snatched victory on this occasion from Nick Schultz of Australia.
As a spectator and a resident here, one can’t help but get drawn into the whole atmosphere that surrounds the phenomena that is the ‘Tour de France’. The thrill starts with the anticipation of an event that one knows will be televised and watched all around the world and which for a brief moment, comes to this little town in the Alps. This excitement builds as red spotted posters and banners appear in shops and are hung from chalet balconies. There is a buzz in the cafes and bars in Morzine and Les Gets, that tells you something big is about to happen. For days before the race, everyone is trying to work out the best place to see the race and who to see it with. Will it be on a grassy knoll beside the road with a picnic, or from a friends balcony with a cold beer or a crisp Chardonnay? Whichever, it will still be a party atmosphere as the route is lined with people from all walks of life just wanting to have a taste of what the Tour will bring. In past years, the route has been via the Col de Joux Plane, which is directly accessible from the centre of Les Gets via the Chavannes lifts.
Initially, the Tour brings a parade of vehicles and floats from the sponsors and Tour organizers, who dispatch all manner of ‘goodies’ as they drive past. If you are lucky, you get an official Tour hat, t-shirt, or key-ring, but normally you only get packets of Haribo sweets, small samples of washing-up liquid and a voucher for something you know not! In our case, this parade was obviously on a tight schedule to get ahead of support vehicles for the riders, and as such, the packets of Haribo etc, were flung towards us at high velocity skimming along the pavement like a flat stone on a pond. This caused great excitement for all the small children who were competing to have the biggest stash of sweeties (and probably lots of washing-up liquid samples for the Mum and Dad too). Fun was had by all and I suspect Magnus Cort wasn’t the only winner on the day!
By: David Underhill – 18 July 22