The Tourmalet takes its toll…
The Etape du Tour took place yesterday (stage 18 of this years TDF), and once again it was the Col du Tournament that did the damage.
It started off cloudy in Pau, the pace was fast and I managed to stay with a large group until the base of the Tourmalet – this is where things changed… Rain started!
It started raining 3kms into the climb and didn’t stop until 3kms from the base of the climb – go figure…
Climbing in the rain can be quite tranquille, descending in the rain can be a nightmare – this was a nightmare. People were all over the place, trying to slowly get down the mountain, stopping in the makeshift shelters for warmth and putting on as many layers of clothing as they could.
The road has just been recently re-surfaced (after the flood damage and in preparation for the TDF), coupled with the rain made it almost like an ice rink in places… this was survival and ‘get off the mountain as quick as I can’.
On a positive note; the road leading up to the Hautacam was wonderful – the sun came out, there were tons of cheering spectators, creating a corridor of well wishes– fantastic atmosphere (the best I’ve experienced since riding). The rain arrived for the last 4 kms and I made it to the top, happy that I completed the route but very surprised to see the state of some of the people arriving after me – they looked like ghosts.
I descended the Hautacam (that was tricky as other riders were coming up weaving all over the place), picked up my finishing medal and rode home – that was yet another “Character Building Ride”.
The event in detail;
Pau – Hautacam – 148.5 kms - 13,000 riders signed up - 8453 finished, quickest time 4:47:29 - slowest time 11:46:57, 3300m of climbing
I finished 844th - 6:18:35
L’ Étape du Tour 2014… That was a great ride (I can say that now), I hope it’s better for the pros on Thursday!
P.s. I didn't have time to stop and take any photos/video, I was in a non-stop survival mode...