As a spectator, you can only imagine the effort the 17th stage of this year’s Tour de France will demand of the cycling elite. The venue: the magnificent mountain panorama of the Swiss canton of Valais, where nature in pure form awaits the athletes and spectators.
On 20 July 2016, approximately 200 cyclists from over 30 nations will transform the small village of Finhaut with 445 inhabitants into the centre of international cycling for a day. The organisers expect up to 100,000 spectators along the route, which has plenty to offer the cyclists in terms of sporting challenges. The 184-kilometre stage will start at the Stade de Suisse football stadium in Berne and take the cycling elite through the Gürbetal and Simmental valleys over the Col de Mosses into the canton of Valais. The final climb will demand the utmost of the cyclists: It consists of a 900-metre ascent from the village of Finhaut to the finishing line next to the Emosson dam.
Guided tours of the Emosson dam: Experience Swiss hydropower first-hand
From Berne to the canton of Valais: Thus the cycling elite will symbolically follow the political path of Swiss hydropower. It is only logical that Alpiq, as a Swiss hydropower specialist, is organising additional guided visitor tours along the route around the date of the Tour de France stage. The tours already start before the Tour de France arrives and represent an excellent excursion for weekenders and holidaymakers.
Up to and including 24 July, there will be additional guided tours at the Emosson dam starting at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., which provide exciting and informative insights into hydropower. The specialist guides will answer any questions you might have relating to hydropower projects, including the Nant de Drance pumped storage power station, which is currently being constructed. This project is impressive proof of how sustainable investments are making a mark on the region’s development.
Visit the Emosson dam
Journey “into the underworld”
For Nant de Drance this year’s Tour de France represents a special logistical challenge. The Tour’s guidelines stipulate that stage stops must not be dead ends. This means: the path to and from the finishing line for the cyclists’ entourage must not be the same. Finhaut solved this problem creatively, because the construction site at the Nant de Drance power station enables an unusual return route to the valley.
After arrival at the finishing line, the 2’500-person Tour de France entourage will traverse the crest of the dam and then travel alongside the reservoir lake to the access tunnel of the Nant de Drance construction site, where they will enter the eight-kilometre underground tunnel that will lead them to the exit in Le Châtelard. The caravan of vehicles will be split into groups and safely escorted by the cantonal police of Valais and the Garde Republicaine Franςaise. A unique experience for everyone involved in the cycling event!
About the Emosson reservoir
Situated at an altitude of 1930 meters, the Emosson reservoir is partly fed by the waters of the Mont Blanc massif. Energy is generated in the Vallorcine and Martigny-La Bâtiaz stations located around 1,400 meters lower down. The water stored in the reservoir is sufficient to generate electricity to illuminate a city of 250,000 residents.
About the pumped storage plant Nant de Drance
Nant de Drance SA is building a pumped storage power station in the Valais municipality of Finhaut. The facility will be situated in an underground cavern between the existing Emosson and Vieux Emosson reservoirs. The power station is designed to generate electricity at peak consumption times and to balance out the irregular and variable electricity generation from renewable energy sources.