This was a ride that was feared by a lot of riders and was ‘get round in any shape’ mentality. Follwiing immediately in from yesterday’s gruelling stage 17, the ride included a cat3 climb, cat 1 Col de Vars and the infamous HC climb Col d’Izoard the final col (mountain climb) if the tour.
It was warm from the off as we set out at a gentle pace. I promised myself to set in the main group and try and keep as much energy for the climbing which didn’t start until 120 km.
The scenery was breathtaking, the best all tour, and legs didn’t seem in too much discomfort at the gentle pace.
Huges lakes, gorges,Valleys and treelined mountains this stage wins for pure beauty.
We were able to admire it all as the ride was a mixture of rolling hills and flats,very much easier than what was ahead.
I spent the most of the ride with Gav who has kept me entertained throughout these last 3 weeks… it’s been a ‘bubble’ existence that quite frankly has flown over from the riding perspective.
The Cols came soon enough,I’m not sure whether it’s because we have have y led so much harder but we glided over first Col and plunged down the mountain heading for the’ easy’ that was Izoard.
The temperatures were now in the high 30s and climb gavea scent of pine as we cycled up through the pine tree lined roads. The road then became exposed to the full heat and almost a desert like landscape and elevations ofup to 12%… but it was my day … the final 5 km of the averaged 10%but became I had ridden gently early on I seemed to cruise up the top without difficulty and the raced down the20 km descent with a great deal of satisfaction.
TheAlps are over … it’s been amazing first time experience riding these mountains,one that will live in the mind for years to come.
Early start in the morning as we head South for the longest stage of the tour … it’s not all over yet !!!!