Orcières-Merlette in 2013
|Nearest major city||Gap|
|Top elevation||2,727 m (8,947 ft)|
|Base elevation||1,850 m (6,070 ft)|
|Skiable area||607 ha (1,500 acres)|
|Longest run||8 km (5.0 mi)|
|Total length||100 km (62 mi)|
|Snowfall||500 centimetres (200 in)|
Orcières-Merlette, also known as Orcières Merlette 1850, is a ski resort near to Orcières, Hautes-Alpes, in the French Alps. It has been a summit finish for Tour de France stages on multiple occasions, most notably in 1971, when Luis Ocaña beat Eddy Merckx by over eight minutes to take the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification.
Orcières-Merlette is situated in the French Alps, around 5 km (3.1 mi) from the village of Orcières, on the edge of the Écrins National Park. It lies above the town of Gap. The highest point of the resort is Col de Freissinières at 2,727 m (8,947 ft) above sea level.
Orcières-Merlette covers an area of 16,000 m2 (170,000 sq ft). The resort has 30 ski lifts and 51 pistes, totalling over 100 km (62 mi) in length. Orcières-Merlette contains one of Europe's longest zip lines, with a length of 1,870 m (6,140 ft) from Le Drouvet to Lac d'Orcières-Merlette.
Orcières-Merlette was built in the 1960s,and opened in 1962. Since the early 2000s, the resort has been owned by Labellemontagne . Skiers who have used Orcières-Merlette as their home location include Valentin Giraud Moine and Alizée Baron. French rally driver Sébastien Ogier has also worked as a ski instructor at Orcières-Merlette.
In 2019, Orcières-Merlette hosted a "colour" skiing event, which involved being sprayed with coloured powders whilst skiing down the mountain.A 2020 Alpine Skiing Europa Cup Super-G event scheduled to be held at Orcières-Merlette was cancelled due to heavy snowfall and lack of visibility.
Orcières-Merlette was first used as a Tour de France stage host in 1971 edition, 60 km (37 mi). He also gained the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification with a finishing margin of 8:42 minutes over the former leader Eddy Merckx. Merckx had won the previous year's race. Following the rest day, stage 12 of the 1971 Tour started with a descent from Orcières-Merlette, which Merckx attacked on with a small group and remained in the lead to the finish in Marseille. Ocaña led the chasing peloton (main field) to limit his loss to Merckx on the stage to two minutes. The leading group broke the record for the fastest average speed of a mass-start Tour de France stage at 45.351 km/h (28.180 mph).when it was used for the finish of stage 11 and the start of stage 12, including the rest day in between the stages. Luis Ocaña won stage 11, attacking from a group of leading contenders and soloing for the final
The Tour returned to Orcières-Merlette the following year when it was again used across a rest day.Lucien Van Impe took victory at Orcières-Merlette in the initial stage 11. The next time Orcières-Merlette was visited by the Tour was ten years later in 1982, when it was used for the finish of stage 15, won by Pascal Simon, before hosting the start of the next stage.
Orcières-Merlette featured in the 1989 Tour as the finish of stage 15's individual time trial, which was won by Steven Rooks.The yellow jersey was taken by Greg LeMond, in a Tour considered to be one of the greatest in the race's history. The stage also included an ascent of the Col de Manse mountain pass, which stands between Gap and Orcières-Merlette.
Orcières-Merlette was the summit finish of stage 4 of the 2020 Tour, the first time that the race had ascended the mountain in 31 years. 7.1 km (4.4 mi) long, with an average gradient of 6.5%. The climb had a reasonably consistent gradient, and features many hairpin turns. It was one of two summit finishes on the first week of the Tour, the other being Mont Aigoual. The stage was one by Slovenian Primož Roglič in a sprint finish.The ascent was
Édouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx, better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian former professional road and track bicycle racer who is widely seen as the most successful rider in the history of competitive cycling. His victories include an unequalled eleven Grand Tours, all of the five Monuments, three World Championships, the hour record, every major one-day race other than Paris–Tours, and extensive victories on the track.
Jesús Luis Ocaña Pernía was a Spanish road bicycle racer who won the 1973 Tour de France and the 1970 Vuelta a España. During the 1971 Tour de France he launched an amazing solo breakaway that put him into the Yellow Jersey and stunned the rest of the main field, including back to back Tour champion Eddy Merckx, but abandoned in the fourteenth stage after a crash in the descent of the Col de Menté. Ocaña would abandon many of the Tours that he entered, but he finished in the top 5 of the Vuelta a España on seven occasions.
The 1998 Tour de France was the 85th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. The 3,875 km (2,408 mi) race was composed of 21 stages and a prologue. It started on 11 July in Ireland before taking an anti-clockwise route through France to finish in Paris on 2 August. Marco Pantani of Mercatone Uno–Bianchi won the overall general classification, with Team Telekom's Jan Ullrich, the defending champion, and Cofidis rider Bobby Julich finishing on the podium in second and third respectively.
The 1985 Tour de France was the 72nd edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place between 28 June and 21 July 1985. The course ran over 4,109 km (2,553 mi) and consisted of 22 stages and a prologue. The race was won by Bernard Hinault, who equalled the record by Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx of five overall victories. Second was Hinault's teammate Greg LeMond, ahead of Stephen Roche.
The 1986 Tour de France was a cycling race held in France, from 4 July to 27 July. It was the 73rd running of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. The Tour consisted of 23 stages, beginning with a prologue in Boulogne-Billancourt and concluded on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The race was organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation and was shown on television in 72 countries, with the total viewers estimated at one billion. Greg LeMond of La Vie Claire won the race, ahead of his teammate Bernard Hinault. It was the first victory for a rider from an English-speaking country. Urs Zimmermann finished third. Five-time Tour winner Hinault, who had won the year before, had publicly pledged to support LeMond for victory in 1986. Several attacks during the race cast doubt on the sincerity of his promise, leading to a rift between the two riders.
The 1983 Tour de France was the 70th edition of the Tour de France, run from 1 to 24 July, with 22 stages and a prologue covering a total distance of 3,809 km (2,367 mi) The race was won by French rider Laurent Fignon. Sean Kelly of Ireland won the points classification, and Lucien Van Impe of Belgium won the mountains classification.
The 1939 Tour de France was the 33rd edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 10 to 30 July. The total distance was 4,224 km (2,625 mi).
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The 1972 Tour de France was the 59th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place from 1 to 22 July, with 20 stages covering a distance of 3,846 km (2,390 mi). The long awaited clash between Eddy Merckx and Luis Ocaña after Ocaña crashed on Col de Menté in the 1971 Tour de France. After riding strongly in the first two weeks of the race and being the closest GC contender to Merckx, Luis Ocaña crashed once more, in the Pyrenees, leaving Merckx to battle Cyrille Guimard for the win. Guimard, having won four stages, had to leave the race after stage 17 in second place, but was given the combativity award after the race.
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