All the riders wanted to do was survive and get through this stage.
At 233km (nearly 150 miles) it was going to be a long day in searing temperatures riding through the French Provences.
The stage started with some lumpy ascents which asked more of the legs than they were perepared for at this stage. In no time at all the sun was high in the sky as the heating had been turned up to maximum.
The weather has been a huge factor in the 3 weeks tour and instead of the warm temperatures I had expected throughout,it has gone from extremely cold , torrential downpours, thunderstorms, gale force winds, to crosswinds and tropical heat .. with no 2 days the same.
Today was all about group riding, finding similar standard riders who could share a 5 minute stint in front and the first half of the ride was eaten up quickly as I found a group of 8 which shared the load.
The second half of the ride was hard work, temperatures soared and the headwinds / crosswinds were so strong that it started throwing bikes side ways in the road … gusts were estimated at about 40km/h…, after over 100 miles of riding this was proving difficult despite the relatively flat Provence region.
There was 1 final Col (Cat 3) which a group of 5 races up as if it wasn’t there , that is one thing I’ve learnt, my climbing skills now have improved dramatically, a look right saw Mount Ventoux and a final look at the Alps … yep I kicked your ass didn’t I ???.
We finally rolled into Surs la Provence drained with the heat and wind, inside feeling quietly emotional that the work was nearly complete… Could I really complete the TOur de France … perhaps the lifetimes ambition was now becoming a distinct possibility.
Food and another early night … Paris was now in touching distance