Running from Saturday July 4th to Sunday July 26th 2009, the 96th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres.
These 21 stages have the following profiles:
- 10 flat stages,
- 7 mountain stages,
- 1 medium mountain stage,
- 2 individual time-trial stages,
- 1 team time-trial stage.
Welcoming Le Tour de France represents a chance for a community to find itself in the headlines for 24 hours as it accommodates the stopover of a small mobile town of approximately 4,500 persons (plus the spectators who travel there) and organises a day of festivities for its residents.
In 2008, 252 towns applied to host a stage of the Tour de France. The scrutinisation of their bids is subject to the correspondence between their geographical position and the main themes dictated by the sporting objectives. Certain towns which are strategically positioned on the Alpine or Pyrenean routes are visited more frequently than the others.
Once a town passes the preliminary stage of the selection process for inclusion on the route of Le Tour, it is necessary to ensure that the arrival (or the departure) of the peloton will be able to take place under optimum conditions in terms of sporting entertainment, rider and public safety, and the work of all the groups called upon to follow the race. The width of the roads, the possibility of setting up parking areas, the configuration of the final bends: all aspects are noted by Le Tour de France general commissioners on their first visit. Getting the green light from them is indispensable.
The route of Le Tour is kept under wraps until the last Thursday in October. With over eight months to go before the race itself, the towns are now free to make announcements on the issues involved in this very special visit. This event is generally attended by the local media. The preparations for Le Tour’s passing are often entrusted by the Mayor to a committee made up of members of the services concerned (sport, technical, communication, etc.…). Regular meetings are held with Le Tour’s representatives, who give their recommendations and advice in multiple fields. The meetings are even more frequent in cases where the visit of Le Tour requires special arrangements (modification of roundabouts, humpback bridges, etc…)
In the days leading up to Le Tour’s passage, the town is given over to the final preparations and little by little, the party spirit descends. There are exhibitions, concerts and various shows dedicated to La Grande Boucle, and the route plans and special diversions are distributed. Le Tour, its caravan and its champions will be the heroes for a day.
Follow the entire Tour on Versus HD live starting at 8:30am EDT most mornings. VERSUS replays the entire race throughout the day and night.