Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Pyrenees Weekend For Le Tour de France

Stages 8 and 9 of Le Tour de France are solid battles in the Pyrenees mountains of south France, north Spain and a swift foray into Andorra. Monday is a rest day and the boys will really need it after a brutal nine days on the roads of France. Lots of road remains for the bicycles, though. Next week will see us heading to the Jura mountains on our way to Switzerland in a little more than a week. What a challenge, and the riders are fighting for every second's lead.

Dimension Data, an invitee team last year, has turned into a powerhouse
this year. Steve Cummings rode a breakaway yesterday all the
way to the Stage win. 

Yesterday was remarkable because of the Flame Rouge 1 Km banner collapsing and blocking the peloton from their progress at the final kilometer of the race. Times were backed off and most of the peloton got their times from the 3 Km timing rods. It was the first (and hopefully the last) time this has ever happened and will go down in Le Tour history along with the bus that was stuck under the finishing line banner a year or two ago in the mountains. You never know what will happen in the Pyrenees.

Stage 8 gives the riders four serious mountains to climb, starting
with a peak with lots of Tour history - the Col de Tourmalet.
DH and I replaced the TV that the storm killed with a spare
yesterday, so now DH can watch today's stage while he's on
the treadmill. He's happy now. 

Today the boys ride from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon. There are four huge peaks today with treasured legacies. We start with the Col du Tourmalet, a beast of a climb for almost 17 km at steep grades.

Just look at this beast. With an average grade of  7.7% but
with sections as steep as 11.6%, it's a barrier of storied legend. 

After Col du Tourmalet, more mountains still lie ahead for a total of four majors. After a "quick" ride over the Hourquette d'Ancizan, the riders will begin working toward the summit of Col de Val Louron.

This peak is only 7.3 km, but parts are as steep
as 13% grade. 

After those three peaks, one more still remains - the Col de Peyresourde, 18 steep kilometers before finally being allowed to ride quickly an additional 14.5 mostly downhill kilometers to the finish.

Of course, after Saturday's brutal climbs, Sunday's Stage 9 has
more of the same. The final day in the Pyrenees brings three
massive climbs and a couple of short but steep teeth to pass over. 

Sunday will find me cooking breakfast while watching Le Tour State 9 on my phone when I'm away from the cable feed. I'm willing to sacrifice some sleep for the boys in the Pyrenees. Chickie will be leaving for Montana for her grandmother's memorial family get-together on Sunday and I'll be assigned to kitty care for her two furry demon kittens for the coming week. I guarantee you'll all be seeing some cute kitten photos over the next week while I feed and water the beasts. Of course, there is lots more Tour to come as well after Monday's rest day. Have a great weekend and enjoy the boys and their bikes in the steep mountains.

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