Thursday, 15 July 2010

Heat, Headwinds and the Devil. FFT day 3

We were up early again. In the room Mitch and I were staying in we had the job of recharging everyones phones/blackberries etc. Bluncky left his phone on two nights in a row and it woke us up both mornings. Mitch told Bluncky he could collect it off the veranda outside our (1st Floor) window.

Brekky done, we rolled out at 8am. Got all of 800m and we stopped for morning coffee. Today we were leaving Bourg d'Oisan and heading south towards the race finish at Gap. This would also be the first day we would have the vans following us. First drivers were Bluncky and Jay. The rest of us were on the bikes. The first part of todays ride is one of the best 35k rides you could ever do between Bourg's and Vizelle which is where we will join the race course.

The plan today was to ride 80k or so in front of the race, then find a cafe with the race on TV and watch for the race to come past us, then continue riding. We were then going to find a camping ground near tomorrow race start at Sisteron.

As we left Bourgs, I was telling Buzz the road is a gradual downhill averaging 3%. Those who did FFT 08 will remember this is where we rode back to Grenoble after the Alpe d'heuz stage. As we left Bourg's I picked up the pace a bit, Danny and Rad Man were rolling turns with me, the rest happy to sit in as we were hitting 60kph down the road. The 3 of us thought someone like Duchess would come through and do a few turns, but he showed (not for the first time) his true colours and sat in.

We teared along the road. It is exhilarating riding in a group of 10, rolling turns at speed. The vans went down to Vizelle where they would wait for us. The bikes averaged over 45k an hour for 35k. We got to the vans only a few minutes after they had arrived. We swapped drivers, refilled water bottles and headed off again. This time we were on the tour course. The first 7k we rode of the course was the main climb of the day, a 7k climb, the col de Laffrey, averaging 9% gradient. As we took off from the vans, Duchess had a "puncture" and said for us not to wait as he would jump in the van and fix it while Katie drove it ahead of us. Bwe all think the timing was a big coincidence, as the rest of us had to climb the hill on a very hot morning. . After yesterdays big day we were all pretty tired so we decided to ride tempo up the climb. As we hit the halfway mark, Duchess appeared from the top of the hill as Katie had dropped him off. He swung in behind us for 300m, then attacked us!!!! Danny went with him, and Damo and I rode tempo, but the damage was done. Tour members were strewn all over the hill. We gave Ryano heaps for the rest of the day for him getting in the van!

After reaching the top of the climb, we waited for the others. Sitting by the side of the road was one of the tours most famous spectators, the Devil who has been at the tour for years. He is a German guy who has even gone as far as trademarking his devil image! He has his own van painted with the devil all over it and he is a huge hit with the fans. He gladly posed for shots (which we will put on the blog). with us which was a big thrill.

After we had done the climb we decided to ride another 40k to a town called Corps. The vans took off and the rest of us had rolling hills and a brutal headwind to ride into. It was a 30kph hot headwind. Seeing this years tour has been so hot it was no suprise that today. The forecast was for 38c with strong winds. It is never fun riding into a headwind and we took turns at the front. The crowds along the course were large today. There weren't many riding the course, so we got plenty of cheers as we rolled along.

We finally got to Corps, all hot and tired and looking for a lake or a river to cool off. Being an Alpine town we thought there might be somewhere to swim but no such luck. We did find a spring that the locals had turned into a fountain so we splashed around in that which was cold and refreshing. As we came into town, like many old French towns, the roads are narrow. We found the vans, with Bluncky leaving one blocking the tour course. The boys who were driving had headed off looking for a cool drink, so the vans were unattended except for 4 Gendarmes looking at the van in a very concerned way as the tour would be coming through soon. By us arriving in the nick of time, we averted having the van towed to some french holding yard!

All good, we found another great little bistro for lunch. Chicken or steak, chips, salad, icecream afterwards we settled in to watch the race on the big screen TV before we walked outside to watch it come through town.

There is a race caravan that comes pat approx 2hrs before the race. It stopped right in front of us and we all enjoyed getting photos taken with the girls on the floats. Buzz even got up on the floats with them!

We watched the race and gave Stewy O'Grady and Robbie Mcewan a big cheer. We got a little wave back from both as they recognised out Aussie accents. Cadel was sitting in not looking too pleased with himself.

After the race we moved to a camp ground near the start of tomorrows stage at Sisteron. The park we are staying in looks to have a few gypsy's staying here so we took all of our passports and wallets to dinner with us. Dinner was la$b and couscous at a very nice Algerian restaurant.

Another good day

Le Foz

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