The Tour de France is on its way back to the top of the Puy de Dôme!

The anecdote is well known and rarely misses the opportunity to tell it. When he arrived at the ASO (Amaury Sport Organization) in January 2004, Christian Prudhomme typed his first four words into the computer. A kind of roadmap linked to a last dream: “Objective puy de Dôme”. Almost 20 years later, this dream, and that of so many Tour de France lovers, has never seemed so close to coming true. Yes, the Tour de France is likely to return again to the volcano ramps that helped build its legend. And vice versa.

The emotion of the trio Prudhomme – Wauquiez – Chauvin

Laurent Wauquiez, president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Lionel Chauvin, president of the departmental council, and therefore the head of the Tour Christian Prudhomme had made an appointment at the top of the Dome hill, this Friday morning. A summit meeting – in every sense of the word – in which The mountain he was able to attend exclusively and intended to mark a historic stage: that of the concrete study of the return of the Grande Boucle to the most visited site in Auvergne. Just that !

“The dream is getting bigger today,” said Christian Prudhomme, as excited as the two elected officials present at his side. “Yes, there is a lot of emotion for us, because it is a dream we have had in our heads for years. The Puy de Dôme is a myth, our emblem of Auvergne and I always thought it was a mistake to deprive oneself of the potential to come here “, recalled Laurent Wauquiez, before Lionel Chauvin also mentioned his” pride “and the ‘”Emotion” that was there. their in the idea of ​​”moving forward together towards the same goal.”

Because it’s an understatement to say that this prospect, so often awaited by cycling enthusiasts, has long seemed like an illusion. After writing some of its best pages, the Grande Boucle has closed the chapter on the “Puy de Dôme” for a long time. For 34 years now, the common history, written in golden letters by the great names of cycling in 13 stages between 1952 and 1988, which culminated in the final duel between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in 1964, has been kept in the closet. of memories.

“This corresponds to our desire to return the mountain to the champions, as we have shown in recent years by going to classified places or difficult to access”

Christian Prudhomme

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The failure, in the first place, with a climb less and less adapted to the scale that took the Tour at the turn of the 80s. Followers and supporters, the Giant of the domes had already reached its limit. Dother obstacles came later to get in the way of the platoon: thea construction of a zip line in 2012 that amputated part of the road; the site’s candidacy for Unesco, which forced the site to be sanctified; and above all a departmental political reluctance linked in part to the world ranking of the Puy de Dôme.

Julio Jiménez, winner of the legendary stage of the Tour de France at the top of the Puy de Dôme in 1964, dies.

Today, these obstacles are no longer prohibitive … as long as a proper plan and lighting system is designed to preserve the enclosure while allowing the race. “This corresponds to our desire to return the mountains to the champions, as we have shown in recent years by going to classified or hard-to-reach places,” Christian Prudhomme recalled. As for the Puy de Dôme, the agents gathered this Friday did not want to advance in the possible options, especially because the coming months will really refine the logistics issue. In any case, it’s hard to imagine that the public could settle in the last four kilometers of the ascent …

What horizon? 2023, 2024, … Again, it’s too early to tell, but the date of July 12, 2024, 60 years after the most emblematic duel in the history of cycling between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor, does not . lack of interest. And when you know Christian Prudhomme’s love for birthdays and round accounts, it’s hard not to see the most beautiful symbol of what would then be the most beautiful return.

Frederic Verna

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