Day 1 (Stage 13): Saint-Girons – FoixJuly 7, 2017, 8:35 pm
So after a very smooth journey to France, Neil and I rolled into Peyragudes excited to get started. However, the transfer from Toulouse airport meant we had to get to the ski resort via the final climbs of Thursday’s stage, a monster 215km day. Explaining to Neil that the climb we were going up in the bus is like what we’d have to do twice the next day…didn’t go down too well!
Briefings done, dinner over, we finally saw Michael at about 10pm. For a man who had been in France best part of two weeks, and had just done a 12.5 hour day on one of the hardest days the tour de force has seen, he was actually looking in fine fettle! Some riders didn’t get in until after 11.30pm. Madness.
Friday morning transfer to the start of the stage, meant a 6am alarm and only 4 hours sleep. Man flu but not helping, fair to say, I wasn’t feeling my best.
Neil and I headed off first of the c100 riders, to ensure we got to the first feed at a reasonable time. A nice stretch to the bottom of the Col de Latrape and it was time to test the legs.
Neil was away in the distance, I followed soon after, a little livener to get started. First feed was neutralised so after a half hour wait, we were descending towards the Col d’Agnes.
That was tough, gradients kicking up to 8, 9, 10%. Noticeably more difficult than the first climb and at close to 10km, 5km longer. Neil went away again and I struggled up. A few stops (for photos…..) and Neil greeted me at the summit. Short descent into the second feed station and we fed our faces with wraps and ice cream. By now the sun was blazing and I was running low on gas, really struggling with the man flu. Being in the red for most of the climb had really taken it out of me.
A cheeky descent and we were onto the lower slopes of the Mur de Peguere. This was the hottest part of the day, like a furnace and my head was pounding. Neil had ploughed on and I got to the 6km mark, ready to tackle the final 3.6km one lane track to the summit.
I cannot convey how mental this section of the climb was. 18% and 16% for best part of 2km. I’ve tackled steep climbs in the UK but they last for a few hundred metres max. I’m not ashamed to say, the shoes came off and I walked the steepest parts. Even that had my heart rate racing into the red. Eventually, I summoned enough energy to hop back on and cycle up the final 1.5km.
Again, Neil was at the top, we tunnelled a few fizzy pops and set off on the 28km descent. Must say, a tricky descent as the road surface is quite loose, watch out for the pros stacking it in the real TDF.
No gags in this blog, just a synopsis of an amazing day. The Pyrenees are awesome, the scenery feels so much more dramatic than the Alps and the gradients reflect the aggressiveness of the surroundings.
This promises to be an explosive day in the real TDF, short, sharp, brutal gradients, lively descents.
Saturday promises a flatter 181km route. A “recovery” stage apparently…..
The Quest to Become the Knightside Chris Froome continues…..
- July 7, 2017, 8:35 pm
- Category: barry