Climb!

By Allison Atkinson – July 1, 2013

We arrived early in the town of Bourg-d’Osians to view the start of Stage 19. After climbing Alpe-d’Huez twice the day before, these men’s vein-y legs looked tired but, at the same time, ready. Their arms appear far more anorexic looking in person than on television; no doubt they have lost a significant percentage of body fat in the past 18 days. Today will be another day of grueling climbing heading out into Le Grand-Bornand for a total 204.5K.

The usual crowd of fans lined the streets of the square; however, annoying as it may have been, I’ve grown accustomed to winding my bike through them, and sometimes people will stop and ask to have their photo taken with me. It’s creepy, and they have mistaken me for someone important but, if it promotes women cyclists, than it is okay. Following the tour is tiring, and we learned that most people will only make it to one or two stages in person and then watch the rest on television. Just getting to the start/finish is impossible unless you’ve camped out the night before or have ridden in by bike.

After a quick glimpse of the pros, I was eager to do some climbing of my own. Robert and I stopped into a café to grab a quick meal and watch the first 20k of the Tour before heading up into the Alps. It was breathtaking; photos do not do it justice, as they are something one must see to believe. In the hypnotizing switchbacks of the mountains, I found ideal riding conditions: smooth country roads, clear air, and just the right amount of suffering at a steady 7 to 9 percent grade hour-long climbs before a much needed recovery: a fast descent. Barreling down switchbacks at 30+ miles per hour amongst the recreational rider who believes that wearing the kit of his favorite pro team gives him or her pro-level descending skills was unnerving but entertaining.

Rain poured two hours into our ride, so after 3 p.m., we were done for the day and ready to check in to our hotel. The art-deco style Hotel de Milan is where Froome and Team SKY stayed the night before, so the staff was still buzzing from that morning.  Apparently Froome was seen standing outside on the balcony wearing nothing but a towel with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth. He’d shown up the evening before in a limo and headed straight to his room where specially prepared food was sent up. The older women working in the kitchen were delighted to prepare anything for the team.
Restaurants offering specials for cyclists


After cleaning up, we sat in the living area to watch the last 20K of the stage.  The hotel set up two viewing areas that were packed with fans. It was another solid stage win for Movistar’s Rui Costa. That was two out of the last four days!  He attacked on the final ascent over Col de Manse. GC contenders did not sweat the large break that happened early. This stage is one of the most difficult, with the most climbing total.  Once rain set in, many of the break were caught. For Costa, following the last climb/attack, it was a quick descent to the finish where he rolled in one minute ahead of the rest.  The yellow jersey group finished nine minutes behind, and GC podium leaders did not change.

The cycling routes in Bourg-d’Osians are the best ever I’ve seen. For someone who loves to climb, this is my paradise! We decided to stay an extra day here in hopes that the forecast is correct and we are to have spectacular riding weather tomorrow.

 
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