Tour de France
Cycling in Provence
Today we rode the Mont Ventoux. Its a hard climb and features regularly in the Tour de France. A must do climb for any cyclist.
There are many stories about the Giant of Provence and one of the privileges of being a guest of mine means you get to hear some of them.
In my final year on the Motorola team in the 1994 Tour de France our team leader was Columbian climber Alvero Majia.
On the day of the Ventoux climb our job was to make sure Alvero was with the leaders at the base of Mont Ventoux. We worked our selves to the ground to maintain Alvero’s position and by the time we reached Bedoin at the base of Ventoux, our job was over.
Along with my remaining team mates, Raul Alcala and Max Sciandi we sat up to ride the 20km climb at a more leisurely pace, if you can call it that and soon found ourselves in the “laughing” group or the grupetto.
I had heard about the Grupetto, a now much misquoted term and at this stage of my career with different roles in the team found myself part of it for the first time.
There is a serious etiquette involved in this group that often involves a dedicated captain. The sprinters, expert at sheltering in this group usually take control and manage the maths. The captain or patron is the driver of the bus. Driving the bus is a huge responsibility, the enemy of the suffering cyclist in the mountains, is the time cut which is usually 12 to 15% of the stage winner’s time.
During this particular tour there was an Aussie rider – somewhat new to Le Tour and not enjoying the Laughing group.
If you want to find out what happened to Neil Stephens that day…the story will be posted to my data base and mailed in our newsletter.
Our day out on the Ventoux.
Written by Phil Anderson