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French Alps

677 920 Gerard O'Connor

Briacon to Briacon 202km Final Alps stage

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 !!!!

1024 768 Gerard O'Connor

La Mure to Serre Chevelier 202km The Alps

One of the toughest stages of the whole tour as we made our way back to the Alps.

2 HC climbs (uncategorised) a Cat1 and a cat3 meant this day had over 18000 feet of climbing in one day …that’s well on the way to climbing Everest!!

warm conditions at the start of the day for the Cat 1 climb as the beauty of the Alps became apparent as light clouds lay in the valley as we cycled above the clouds.

All very scenic but there was setious work to be done over the day, Colde Fer, col de telegraph and the Galibier are well renowned climbs in the tour over the years and together meant we had in excess of 40 km of ascending at some gradients of 12%.

This stage on its own would prove difficult,with now nearly 2000 miles in the legs it was proving all of that as we are into the climbs, when the climbs are so long and steep you end up riding on your own as you’re able to ride at your own rythem and pace. as the day wore on the temperatures rose which made climbing extremely hot and sweaty, and I was desperate for any slight cloud cover or shaded area by trees as we climbed.

This time I really couldn’t take in the breathtaking views, I needed all my focus to grind a tempo to get me to the top.

The reward 30 km of downhill with a tail wind .. exhilarating and scary as I sped through the switch backs and eventually onto straight roads at break kneck speeds … the hard work was worth it …

Day 1 of 2 in the Alps … tomorrow sees another big day with huge climbs … Focus on completing that stage and the light is certainly there to see for Paris… however not too complacent… there is more work to be done.

Another bit of good news .. 2 nights in the same hotel .. result ..

food and rooms are perfect ??