Sunday, 18 July 2010
The longest span and the shortest break at Le Tour de France
Yesterday we kicked off from Milau, its a really nice little town, but is famous now for its huge suspension bridge, which is pretty amazing. Basically it spans the valley allowing the traffic to bypass the town. All of those small twisty streets would have been terrible with a summer traffic jam!
As we rode out of town, we could see the bridge in the distance, even from a few km away it was huge. Mitch and I stopped for a few photos with the bridge in the distance to send back home and then rode back upto the group.
Not long after that we started to get closer - Hollywood had promised yesterday that we would ride right under the bridge and sure enough he was right. The bridge is tall, really tall and as we rode under I made the mistake of looking up over my shoulder at the pylon. Its so high I nearly fell off from vertigo. Now I know what its like for people who can't look down from a cliff!
After 35k it was my turn to drive, so with Danny and I driving we decided to follow behind the group, rather than leapfrog 10k and wait for the group.
The valley following the river was beautiful, small towns built into the side of shear rock faces, the river and this small windy road, great for riding, not so good driving a campervan.
I took our walkie talkies so we could talk between the vans, very helpful if we get separated, or to warn of upcoming cars etc.
Suddenly after a quick 50k we had found the race course, excellent - except that we wanted to get across it. Not as easy as it sounds. The tour has 1,000 police and their own full time department - that's all they do for a job.
Now while you may get a bike across there is no way the friendly gendarme is going to let you get get 2 fully loaded campervans across the course.
Danny (Poolboy) and I rotated out of the vans, and went straight to a 10k climb, not to steep, but it took a few km to get the legs to wake up... Luckily Damian was there, pacing me up with Poolboy.
At the top, it was straight in the vans then head to Revel for the bunch finish.
Now the challenge was to get across the course, we took goat track after goat track, little roads with the trees scraping up the vans sides, left into a goat track, seriously are we turing here it looks like a driveway?
Off to the finish and we managed to jag a seat at the 150m to go sign - we could see the big screen and the finish.
One of the riders had managed to escape on the last climb and road all the way to the finish...
So the spint was for second. Even for second he guys go through so fast, right in front of us Cavendish is looking across seeing if he's in front, all the other guys have their heads down going for the line, but Cav he's seeing like a 100m runner, only needs to win, not win by 10m. He kicks again, and takes second too easy - even without Mark Renshaw the Aussie send home for head butting! We saw Lance Armstrong roll across the line a few minutes down, laughing, joking saving himself for the mountains I'm sure.
After the race its back through the vans, we're heading to the Mountains, the mountains that will decide the tour. You can see them in the distance already, shrouded in mist and cloud, bare tops with no trees, desolate - maybe tomorrow you will see us at the top of one of them - hope so!