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SKI

Star skier Cuche still going strong at 37

Just like an old Swiss watch that never stops ticking, Didier Cuche continues to defy his age on the World Cup circuit.

Star skier Cuche still going strong at 37
Skistar Trysil

What the 37-year-old Swiss speed specialist has been able to achieve in the latter stages of his career has been astonishing.

In March, he won the World Cup overall downhill championship title, marking the fourth time he has captured the crown (2011, 2010, 2008, 2007).

“I was pretty happy with last season,” Cuche said on Thursday. “It is still fun and a pleasure for me to ski and that is why I decided to continue.

“I feel comfortable right now even with the many hours of training I put in and the risks that come with our sport.”

Cuche’s pursuit of his third consecutive downhill title begins this weekend in the Canadian Rockies with the season opening FIS World Cup speed races.

The first men’s downhill race of the season is Saturday followed by the super-G race on Sunday.

Cuche ended last season ranked first in both downhill and super-G, finishing second in the overall rankings to Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic.

The 17-time World Cup race winner is now chasing Austrian legend Franz Klammer for the most downhill champion titles. Klammer has five with his last one coming in 1983.

“It would be a great success,” Cuche said of equalling Klammer’s record.

And in January last year, Cuche surpassed Austrian Michael Walchhofer to become the oldest downhill winner in the history of the World Cup, taking the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel at the age of 36 and 159 days.

The world’s elite men’s skiers head into Lake Louise after an almost five-week break, following the cancellation of the November 13th slalom in Levi, Finland due to a lack of snow.

Repeating as the Crystal Globe downhill champ will be no easy task for Cuche as he will face strong challenges this season from Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, Austria’s Klaus Kröll and Italians Christof Innerhofer and Werner Heel.

Among those missing is last year’s Lake Louise downhill winner Walchhofer, who retired in March after compiling 19 career World Cup victories in 13 seasons.

Race officials cancelled Wednesday’s first training run because of heavy snowfall and Thursday’s training was also pushed back two hours so workers could try and get the course ready.

“It used to be a glider’s course and thought of as an easy track. The last couple of years they’ve made it quite icy and bumpy and made it quite challenging to be fast on,” said Canadian skier Jan Hudec.

Kostelic is hoping to get back into a groove similar to the run of success he enjoyed late last season which propelled him to the World Cup overall title.

Kostelic won the overall title but then spent the off-season recovering from knee surgery. He said Thursday he feels fine and one of his goals this year is to better his results in the speed disciplines.

“Downhill and giant slalom are my worst disciplines so I would like to do better in both of those,” Kostelic said.

He said the five-week break between races was good for him because he wasn’t able to train in the off-season like he normally does.

“I missed a lot of training because I had my surgery in the spring. I made up some of my lost training time during the break,” Kostelic said.

Austrian skier Mario Scheiber, who finished second in the Lake Louise downhill last season, pulled out of the first downhill and super-G of the season on Thursday because of an injury.

Scheiber was due to return to competition in Lake Louise after fracturing his collar bone and nose in a training crash in January in Chamonix. But he injured himself last week training in Colorado.

The loss of Scheiber and Walchhofer means two of the top three finishers from last year’s Lake Louise downhill will not be back this season.

The men next travel to Beaver Creek, Colorado for three races, downhill, super-G and giant slalom.

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SPORT

The best spots to watch Tour de France in Switzerland

This Saturday and Sunday July 9th and 10th, over 170 cyclists from all over the world will compete in the annual Tour de France competition, part of which will take place in Switzerland. This is where you can watch the event.

The best spots to watch Tour de France in Switzerland

As the previous editions of the annual race have shown, spectators line up and cheer the cyclists almost everywhere along the route, so the “best” spot depends pretty much on where you live in relation to the Swiss route.

Cyclists will arrive from Dole (France) to Lausanne through the Bois d’Amont, La Vallée de Joux, the Col du Mollendruz, Cossonay, and Préverenges.

The start is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. and Lausanne should be reached four hours later, around 5:20 p.m.

For the next stage on July 10th, racers will depart from Aigle at 12:45 pm and cycle toward Vionnaz, Cully, Châtel-St-Denis, Bulle, Les Moulins, Les Mosses, Col de La Croix, and Morzine before crossing back into France.

This link has a map showing the Swiss leg of the tour.

These are some of the good viewing / cheering spots along the route:

In the Vallée de Joux, you can watch the cyclists whizz by in the villages of  Le Brassus, Le Sentier, Le Lieu, Le Séchey, Les Charbonnières, and Le Pont.

Cyclists race in the Vallée de Joux. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Lausanne

You can watch the competitors race by virtually anywhere along the nine-kilometre path — they will arrive from the La Vallée de Joux from the south, climbing up the Avenue d’Ouchy, then cross Place Saint-François and Pont Chauderon, then on to  the Avenue de Beaulieu, and finishing in front of the Pontaise Olympic stadium.

All these streets will provide good viewing opportunity.

Mountains

The first mountain stage will start on the Place du Marché in Aigle, where you can watch cyclists pass by as they climb toward mountain villages (see above), all of which provide good viewing for spectators.

Leaving Aigle, cyclists will climb on winding mountain roads. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Access

Unless you actually live in the vicinity of the route, keep in mind that you can’t access it by car as all the roads  be closed to traffic and you will have to park elsewhere.

If you are watching from any of the above mentioned mountain locations (Vionnaz, Cully, Châtel-St-Denis, Bulle, Les Moulins, Les Mosses, Col de La Croix, and Morzine), taking a bus up from Aigle is probably the smartest choice.

Additionally, on Saturday from noon, the Lausanne-Sud motorway, as well as the UNIL-EPFL, Malley and Maladière entrances and exits will be closed to traffic until 6 pm.

However, the A1 / A9 / A12 motorways will remain open in Vaud, Fribourg and Valais.

You can access the route(s) by public transport, which will be “reinforced” during La Tour de France.

For instance, in the Lausanne, the metro will run more frequently, and a temporary line, will link La Riponne to Oiseaux, making it easier to access the last kilometre of the route. More trains will also circulate on the two days as well, especially regional Vaud trains as well as the RegioExpress Genève – St-Maurice.

More information can be found here.

For the Fribourg leg the information is in this link.
 

 
 
 

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