Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Stage 16 - Vaison la Romaine to Gap

As the race heads out of Provence towards the Alps, today's stage to Gap created an opportunity for the non-GC contenders to race for a stage win.
Today's 26 man break was allowed to establish an early break by the key GC teams, with all teams represented by riders who didn't threaten the Top 5. With Cam Meyer and Michael Albasini in the breakaway group we were all hoping for a fairytale result for Orica Greenedge, however Movistar's Rui Costa waved the Portuguese flag high with another Tour de France stellar performance. He demonstrated his strength over the final Cat 2 Col de Manse to ride away from his breakaway mates with only 12 km to race.
Contador is set on continuing a strong challenge to consolidate his podium result and is like a burr under the saddle blanket of Froome, to the extent that he and Froome had a close call on the descent of Col de Manse into Gap. Contador was pushing the limits and forcing Froome to follow closely on a tricky descent, only to end up on the deck with Froome almost following suit.
It is shaping up to be a great competition between these two in the next few days in the Alps, although Contador's 4:25 deficit will be almost impossible to bridge, unless Froome comes completely unstuck by some form of misadventure.
It was a very hot day in Provence today, reaching 37 deg C, and our group road the 40 km to the Stage Start in the small town of Vaison la Romaine. There were limited access roads into the town and although we arrived 3 hours before the race start, the security put in place by the Gendarmerie created difficulty for us locating our bus to secure our bikes and allow our clients to retrieve walking shoes, caps etc. We found a spot near the race start area to place all the bikes and allow our clients to get up close to the riders while they signed on and got ready to start the race. I looked after the bikes while our tour leader went on the hunt for our bus, finally finding 1.5 km from the start!
This is all part of the Tour when you go to a start or finish but today was made more difficult by the hot weather, small number of local shops and huge crowds and large numbers of vehicles.
Half of our clients opted to take the bus back to the hotel, saving their legs for our ride up Alpe d'Huez tomorrow. I rode with the balance of our group back to the hotel along very hot country roads, enjoying a light lunch along the way.
The weather on Alpe d'Huez for our ascent tomorrow and the race day on Thursday is looking pretty miserable, with rain and possible storms, so we're preparing for a pretty tricky couple of days. We'll be up early for breakfast before taking our bus to the base of Alpe d'Huez tomorrow. One group will ride up and descend the 21 switchbacks, covering a total of 27 km. A larger group that I will ride with is going to complete a 60 km ride up d'Huez and then along the race route to Col de Sarenne and back to Le Bourg d'Oisans, at the base of d'Huez. Even in wet weather this will be a great ride.
The pics below were taken during our ride today, apologies for the lack of race start pics, I didn't quiet make it due to the bike baby-sitting duties. :-)


  1. ah Pete, I just drooled last night at the lavender, and the scenery in les Alpes...

    ..then here is tis again!!
    Do you get to smell it?
    .. would love to pick big bunch :D but dont think customs would like it brought back :(

    Great duel with Contador and he was not popular with Froome after the crash .. we could not see clearly how it happened, which was disappointing.

    ..busy here for next twenty four hours so le tour will have to be caught up later on tape - life goes on :D

    Keep safe Pete, on alp d'Huez and the 21 switchbacks, esp in wet, pray it is not too, too wet. Shaz in Oz.x

  2. I subscribed to your blog a couple of days agao and really enjoy reading your daily journal of events! I hate to admit that I'm not a cycling fan and don't watch the Tour de France but your reports are getting me interested! So maybe......! I did watch some of the St Malo route as we live about 45mins drive from St Malo and it was great to see familiar sights on the TV! Cycling here is a BIG thing, we have groups of people cycling at good speeds on their racing bikes and in their lycra all the time. When we pass them in the car our amazement is that most of them are at least 100 years old! Puts moi to shame! Bonne chance for tomorrow!

    1. Hi Anne, thank you for your comment on my Blog. If you check out my Blog Archive (right hand side bar) you will see my Blog from the 2011 Tour de France. I spent the first week of that tour in your part of the world and it has been one of my favourite locations so far. There are some nice photos in the Blog of 2011 and I am sure you will recognise many of them.

  3. Hi Peter,
    I see you like France like me I enjoyed Australia. You become a real journalist reporting. Each photo is more beautiful than others. Congratulations.
    I also kept a small stone to remember my only ascent of Ventoux, a stone on which I marked the date, 16 August 1975! in an other life. I missed so much air as I climbed that I was stung by a wasp in the throat mouth... Not sure we would have built me a monument like the poor Simpson.
    Successful next stages...
    Marc D.