Bastia to Ajaccio : 30 June 2013
The second stage of the Tour travelled from Bastia on the north east coast to Ajaccio on middle of the west coast and in doing so traversed the high mountain spine of the island.
The riders departed from Place Saint-Nicholas in the centre of Bastia and headed south past Sporting Club Bastia, Corsica's most famous football club. It's not long before the road started to gently pick up and the riders turn their back on the east coast and head along the N193 through Ponte Nuovu where they may have spotted the famously decorated post office. The scenery gets better and better and as they approached Ponte Leccia and they could see just how high Corsica's mountains go with a stunning view of the Monte Cinto massif (2,207m).
On through Ponte Leccia heading for Corte, the island's old capital and home to the University of Corsica. Leaving Corte the road now starts to get steeper and there is a 8km stretch of around 5% to the Col de Belle Granaje at 723m. From here there is a fast descent into and through the picturesque and very narrow village of Venaco before the road picks up again to climb through Vivario and beyond to the Col de Campo Di Lupo. Just over 6km of about 7% including 1km of between 8-13% leaving Vivario. After the Col there's 3km of respite before a 6.5km climb through stunning scenary to the Col de Vizzavona at 1,163m which again has a km or so where the gradient varies between 8-13%. The high peak over to the right is Monte d'Oro (2,389m).
Over the Col and there is a steep and narrow jaw dropping descent towards the port of Ajaccio and the finish line. Chris Froome of Team Sky tried to stretch everyone's legs on the way into Ajaccio and it was fortunate that a spectating dog didn't cause the peleton to fold. Lucky dog. Some say it was the Orica GrenEdge dog! A very memorable first ever Tour stage win for Jan Bakelants of Radio Shack who took the yellow jersey and held onto it until the end of stage 4.
It's perfectly possible to do sections or all of this route. My own favourite is to set off from Corte and go to the Col de Vizzavona where you can replenish before heading back to Corte again, about a 65km round trip.
© M.Lund 2013-17