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Tour De France

768 1024 Gerard O'Connor

Stage 20 Marseille TT 22km

TOUR DE FRANCE

An amateur should think long and hard before attempting one of these stages, 2 would probably necessitate a visit to a doctor, 3 would require a psychiatrist – anymore and you should be checking that person has written a will.
Bernard Hinault, 5 times Tour de France winner

Kind of sums it up really …20 stages complete, 1 gentle ride into Paris tomorrow

Could I really fulfill a lifetimes ambition and complete the 21 stages of the TDF … really ??

Paris is in touching distance…

It wasn’t really a TIme Trial it was a gentle ride around the port of Marseille and a sharp ramp up to the city’s beautiful basilica. It will be a technical ride for the PROS as it winds it way around the streets at the speeds they travel , for us it was a ride to savour , it was an opportunity to just turn the legs ?

Now it’s a TGV ride up to Paris… full of excitement at the thought of this epic  journey coming to an end.

750 523 Gerard O'Connor

Le Puy en Velay to Romans sur isere 168km

Today was all about getting through the day and conserving as much energy as possible for the demanding next 2 stages in the Alps. Stages that stand between me completing the Tour de France. Following stages are difficult (one in length) but by reputation alone the Alps will prove a huge challeng.The rest day was gratefully received and a bit to early start, 8am we rolled out of the lovely  Le Puy en Velay in glorious sunshine., within 20 minutes  the weather changed again and we were caught in another torrential downpour, a permanent feature of this years tour.

A couple of catergorised climbs in the first half of the ride didn’t cause too many issues as we nipped along at a fair pace.

The reward for the morning part of the ride was a very long descent on wide open roads and great tarmac and we are into the miles through the Ardeche area of France.

The final 50km ran alongside the Rhone and in the distance the group could see what was ahead in the distance, the Alps… the do look huge …totally different, obviously, to my skiing experiences when the snow capped mountains are replaced by lush greenery, I may not feel the same about their beauty over the few days.

Group riding got us to the finish all in tact and fairly generally fresh, amazing to think that riding over 100 miles in day is now part of the recovery process….

16 stages complete … dare not look to far ahead, but a sense of achievement to be this far …. the next days will no doubt shape the outcome.

596 1024 Gerard O'Connor

Nantua to Chambery 188km …The toughest day so far ??

Is this the toughest stage of the tour ??

Three of the most feared climbs of the whole tour were in today’s stage.

Col de la Biche, Grand Colombier and Mont du Chat all uncatergatised climbs due to their severity. Climbs are rated 1 to 4 depending on their difficulty all three of these climbs  are uncategorised as they are considered so difficult.

In order Col de la Biche rides for 20km at an average gradient of 7%, nice to get the legs warmed up first thing ?,

Gran Colombier is a monster… a brute of a climb, 10km at average of 10%, it rises to a wall of 20% for a kilometre in the middle , the steepest mountain so far of the tour.

Mont du Chat is just their to finish you off !!

Another 10km of climbing at an average of 11% at the end of a gruelling day.

I felt the biggest sense of achievement so far as I rolled in some 9 hours after starting. The hardest day so far after the worst day ever of riding, 2 differing back to back days.

The day had more casualties with injuries to a number of riders and some simply finding the climbs to much and calling it a day or early or taking a easier route to avoid the monster! not a bad idea for some guys considering there are still another 12 days of riding …Geez !!

The weather was kinder today and some of the views were spectacular from the very top of the  mountains.

On a technical note my front carbon wheel  delaminated (buckled) on a descent which had I continued on it could of had pretty serious consequences.. A quick change of wheel by the mechanics got me back in the saddle and a lot safer !

Hotel was great and riders were in good spirits as tomorrow is a rest day.!! Never have I looked forward to a 6 hour transfer on a bus so much ?

576 1024 Gerard O'Connor

Vesoul to Troyes 225km

What a day … the longest ride I’ve ever completed in probably the toughest conditions. Crosswinds , headwinds and torrential rain throughout made the ride hugely difficult even though there was only a peppering of climbs.

We spent 9 hours cycling through what has to be said was some very bland countryside until we entered the Champagne region, an area full of vineyards, thoughnot much enthusiasm to stop and admire the views due to the heavy rain.

A lot of riders (including me) in the group were starting to feel tired, with over 1000 km of riding already… the good news …. there is none !! Tomorrow same distance, into more headwinds so a ride of attrition appears to be on the cards.

All that said,the banter and chat in the groups is always good…and riders always willing to help other riders struggling.

Nit many highlights today, Charles de Gaulles cemetery ..?? Kind of sums up the day really.