Alpe d’Huez is one of the most iconic climbs in the Tour de France, and it also has a reputation for its party atmosphere. Dutch corner has long been established on the Alpe and more recently, Irish Corner has claimed Corner 10 of the climb. Now, the latest country to claim one of the 21 corners as the place to go to for their supporters is the UK. Corner 11 this year will be known as Beefeater Bend.
One of the founders, Jay Guarnieri, explained how it came about. “The Beefeater thing started in 2011 when 2 friends (who weren’t cyclists) on a whim, decided to drive down to the Alps to see what all the fuss was about with the Tour de France after watching a mountain stage on TV. To identify themselves as British fans they decided to go dressed as Beefeaters. They were on the Galibier when Andy Schleck solo’d 60km to victory and they were hooked.”
“They returned to the UK, bought bikes and have been cycling ever since. They dusted off the Beefeater costumes and returned to the Alps in 2013. Through friends and acquaintances, the group has grown since then to 6 (5 from Essex and 1 from Yorkshire). All love cycling, a laugh, a few drinks and have become a close knit group of friends.”
“Last year’s Tour de France in Yorkshire was incredible. After a recce, the group commandeered a corner near Muker, and we basically had a party all day. Someone on a forum mentioned they were at Beefeater Bend and the name stuck. It was such a great time that we decided we all needed to go to the Alps and as this year was visiting Alpe d’Huez it had to be there and to recreate Beefeater Bend on one of the hairpins. So we’ll be driving the 700+ miles to Mont Ventoux on 20th July and onto the campsite in Bourg d’Oisans the next day. Then we’ll ride Alpe d’Huez, Croix de Fer, Galibier before the big day.”
“Our first night in camp is always a traditional black tie champagne reception followed the next night by a trip into town for dinner in our striped blazers and boaters (you know, just for fun). Then it’s just the small matter of transporting the sound system, generator, flags and beer (and maybe some food) the 3.3miles and 1000ft up to hairpin 11 and hopefully a big crowd and a big party atmosphere.”