It was also our last big travel day with the vans. Our destination for tonight was Lourdes and this would be home for the next 4 nights.
Up early, made possible by Pool Boy coming into the van early, we had our usual breakfast of cereal and baguttes. Buzz and Joe were going to take the vans to the feedstation just near the foot of a famous climb the col Port d'Aspet. The rest of us got on top of the carbon and headed to the race course. Our plan was to ride approx 115k, most of it along the course. This was undulating land, mostly rolling hills with a couple of shortish 2kilometre 4% climbs. As we left the camp and hit the main roads, there was the French equivilent of Cliffy Young doing his shuffle along the highway. The group got out of it's shuffle and we started to do easy to moderate rollovers that made the k's go by quickly. It is great fun riding along the course in front of the race. The roads are closed, there are a lot of people and they are bored as they have 4+ hours to wait, so they cheer anyone or thing. There are also not many bikes riding as most people go to the mountain parts of the stage.
We were howling along, with Jay on the front not paying attention as to where he was going and he missed the turnoff and almost had us in Toulouse! We turned the corner and I did a big turn up a 5% climb for 2k's when Danny realised it was a KOM and he jumped with Damo around me- Damn. We made up for it a few k later when we hit the intermediate spring. Jordan (team Boston) went early, making Damo (team Melbourne) react to cover. This put team Sydney in prime postion with Mitch and I doing a Renshaw/Cavendish move and Mitch taking rhe sprint easily!!
We continued along the course, taking turns, people cheering and we went through a famous cave/tunnel. It was 400m long and the largest Cave I have ever seen. It was spectacular and had a road traversing it.
We got near the finish of our ride at the feed station where Joe and Jarroyd waited when the gendarmes kicked us off the course. A local helped us find a backway for most of it, but we ended riding the bikes cross country style through a series of paddocks to avoid the cops and keep moving. I am sure back home I would not consider doing this, but when in France......
The riders came through and a couple of water bottles, one Cadels and the other Brett Lancasters, plus another from Radio Shack was all we had to show for our efforts. Jarrod had picked the wrong spot as most teams dumped their feedbags a k up the road. We jumped in the Vans with the race and our riding over. Over the col d' aspet and we got stuck in traffic, however we stopped at the Memorial to one of Lances's old motorola team mates Casartelli, who died during the TDF iin 1995 from hitting his head on a barrier. Pretty powerful stufff and makes you think about how we take iit all for granted.
Once that was all done we headed to Lourdes, our home for the next 4 nights, stopping briefly on the way to watch the race and Contador do what looks like a mongrel act by attacking while his main rival has a mechanical
Most of us didn't like that at all.
We got to Lourdes and set up. Had dinner at the same place Mitch and I went to last year. The waitress remembered us!
Tomorrow is a big day in the mountains for us. Hautacam and Col d' Abisque away!
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