Tour de France
Cycling the French Alpes
My Tour de France is progressing far more elegantly than the Real Tour. We have climbed through the Pyrenees without to much mishap and have crossed to the Massive Central. The mont Ventoux is on our ride cards en-route to the Alpes with some great spectating expected.
The controversy that is following Le tour is so massively inflated by a media hungry for anything of interest outside of Sky’s dominance to find a story. The jostling of the crowds, bipartisan spectating have always been part of le tour but also spectating. Let’s face it, the Italians have known for a long time how to win a race. I remember well when they flew a helicopter in Fignons path during a time trial. Fignon lost that Giro to an Italian.
Its hard to see how Froome will loose this Tour de France yet despite his graciousness I wonder that he should just toughen up a little, wash his jersey and stop complaining about the harshness of the criticism. It is unfortunate that such incidents occur but the path to victory is unlikely to be smooth and the beast that is le tour, in fact cycling is this live passionate spectating. We would not change it. In my day the fans gave me coke! Here at PAC we have discovered the secret to Froome’s Success.
Many underestimate the massive central and how difficult a terrain it is to race over. For the fatigued TdF rider this canyon country can be hellish, with it’s endless series of 500 metre vertical climbs and plummets. This is limestone country with deep gorges cut into barren shrubland is beautiful and the area we have started our second trip at this years Tour de France.
The Ardeche seems to have slumbered for many years, little has changed. In summer the searing heat is reminiscent of home and my guests are embracing the summer conditions having escaped a cold, cold winter.
We have ridden through the labyrinth of tiny laneways which intersect the valleys and if you are not in a rush this is a virtual Disneyland for cycling. I love it and it is a great warm up for the Alpes.
After leaving our hotel near Montreal (Ardeche) we followed twisty lane ways hill and dale eventually leading to a location mid-race where we had a spot of lunch while waiting for the race to pass. The hamlet of Borne was the locale of a 4th Cat KOM and the destination for my guests on this Alpes Tour to experience first hand the carnival of le Tour.
Folks had come from far and wide to view the Tour and as it swept through this pretty little spot and we became as involved as the rest of them in the frivolity of le tour. When the race finally passed just after lunch it was the Belgium Lotto squad setting the tempo in the hope that the chasing Cavindish group would stay out of range.
Greipel won making it 3 wins for the German nicknamed the Gorilla.
At the end of a long say we caught the finale as only the locals will. For me, I’ve still got what it takes to get through the feed zone while for others, it was all too much!
Written by Phil Anderson
Photography: Graham Watson