Saturday, July 25, 2015

Only Two Minutes and 38 Seconds

It's been more than two weeks, hundreds of miles, aching muscles, crashes and break-aways and it comes down to this. The final day of Le Tour de France is traditionally reserved for the sprinters, and as long as nothing happens to the rider wearing the Yellow Jersey, the person wearing it on the podium tonight after the final stage in the Alps will be the winner of this year's Tour. But it's close - it's 2' 38" close.

Vincenzo Nibali won Stage 19 by 44 seconds over
Nairo Quintana and 1 minute 14 seconds over the
current TdF leader, Chris Froome. 

Chris Froome (Sky) has been in yellow since Stage 7 (and also on Stage 3), but it's been a battle over each and every peak. Yesterday, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) managed to win the stage and gained more than two minutes on the yellow, but he's still more than six minutes behind the podium.

One of the commentators mentioned that they had driven their cars
to the finish line the day before and used second gear all the way
up. Here you get an idea about how steep some of these Alpine roads
can be for the riders. 

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), however, came in second and currently rides in the same position that he ended up in 2013 - second to Chris Froome. Today's stage is a monster and a fitting end to all but the sprinter's fireworks as they ride into Paris tomorrow. A 110.5km run to the podium, there are only two peaks today, but both are HC and one, Alpe d'Huez, is iconic. Alpe features 10 miles of pain, 21 switchbacks up the mountain. The riders are only riding it once (at least once in the Lance Armstrong years it was the path through the Alps twice).

Oh, the road up Alpe d'Huez. It's iconic, it's
dramatic, it's ten miles of steep roads,
crazy crowds and pain - lots of pain. It's a
totally amazing road on Le Tour. 

Originally, this stage was supposed to include one more mountain - the Galibier - but conditions on the mountain (aka landslides) cut the peak from the final route. A good ride or an accident or a poorly timed mechanical issue with a bike could make a big difference to the final standings. I'm so excited to see the boys going up Alpe d'Huez once again. Tomorrow we'll ride into Paris - it's been a GREAT Tour de France. Have a wonderful weekend!

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