28 June 2013

Hanging with Jens, James and Frankie in Corsica

Anyone else want to be in Corsica right now?

There is something about the 3 days preceding the Tour de France that is so exciting and so much fun.

I just wrote my lengthy post on How to Watch the Tour de France but skip through all that and head straight to the Tour Talk videos with Frankie Andreu and James Startt. These two banter and talk over each other as if you are with your cycling buddies.

In this video James and Frankie had a (very well staged) surprise visitor from a rider now riding his 16th tour de France who states that he has spent nearly 300 days of his life racing the Tour. Tune in daily for more race predictions (filmed after each stage) for the next day's stage. Sure to entertain, and maybe surprise.

Watch video here: http://bcove.me/um988b63

Which reminds me ...

How do you pronounce his name?
Jens Voigt: Yens Vokedt (close to evoke with a little t at the end, closer to vote than voit)

How to Watch the Tour de France

Time to watch and read about the Tour de France in 2013

Have you been curious how to watch the Tour this year? 

The Tour de France begins tomorrow, Saturday June 29 through Sunday July 21, 2013. Time to watch the competition, scenery and tradition that is that Tour de France. Find access to watching the Tour de France in a way which best suits you: TV, online, apps, or facebook. Unfortunately if you are an American citizen and want to watch the race live you are going to have to pay NBC (cable TV, online or app),

If you cannot watch the race live, then read about the results and stories or watch video clips to keep up on results. See resources listed under Live Text updates, Video Libraries, Social Media, and Reading below.

But the main point is this - GO RIDE YOUR OWN BIKE. The Tour de France is meant to inspire us cyclists. There will be no sacrificing ride time by sitting around watching le Tour. That is why I am here to save you time by focusing your attention on exactly where to watch or find your news on the race. 


Europe - TV Schedule for the 2013 Tour de France 
See the Eurosport TV Schedule.

See the France TV 3 TV Schedule

See the itv Tour de France TV schedule and itv website pages for the race.

Or find other broadcast TV schedules at the bottom of Steephill.TV page for Sporza, Raj, France TV 2, iTv 4, rtve, rtv, espn international, tsn2, rds, j sports, super sport, Rai Sport 2, Rai 3, nos, rtbf, rtl, sf zwei, 2 sportin, rmc.

United States - TV Schedule for the 2013 Tour de France 

NBC Sports Network Live (and taped) TV coverage schedule (cable) (EDT times: New York). Commentating by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.
Saturday, June 29 - Tour de France, Stage 1: Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, 7:30 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Sunday, June 30 - Tour de France, Stage 2: Bastia to Ajaccio, 7:30 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Tour de France, Stage 2: Bastia to Ajaccio, 12:30 p.m., NBC (Re-air)
Monday, July 1 - Tour de France, Stage 3: Ajaccio to Calvi, 6:30 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Tuesday, July 2 - Tour de France, Stage 4: Nice to Nice, 9 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Wednesday, July 3 - Tour de France, Stage 5: Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Thursday, July 4 - Tour de France, Stage 6: Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Friday, July 5 - Tour de France, Stage 7: Montepellier to Albi, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Saturday, July 6 - Tour de France, Stage 8: Castres to Ax 3 Domaines, 8 a.m., NBC (LIVE)
Sunday, July 7 - Tour de France, Stage 9: Saint-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 6:30 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Monday, July 8 - Tour de France Rest Day, 8 a.m., NBCSN
Tuesday, July 9 - Tour de France, Stage 10: Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Sain-Malo, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Wednesday, July 10 - Tour de France, Stage 11: Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Thursday, July 11 - Tour de France, Stage 12: Fougères to Tours, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Friday, July 12 - Tour de France, Stage 13: Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Saturday, July 13 - Tour de France, Stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Sunday, July 14 - Tour de France, Stage 15: Givors to Mont Ventoux, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Monday, July 15 - Tour de France Rest Day Show, 8 a.m., NBCSN
Tuesday, July 16 - Tour de France, Stage 16: Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Wednesday, July 17 - Tour de France, Stage 17: Embrun to Chorges, 8 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Thursday, July 18 - Tour de France, Stage 18: Gap to Alpe-d'Huez, 6 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Friday, July 19 - Tour de France, Stage 19: Bourg-d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand, 6 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Saturday, July 20 - Tour de France, Stage 20: Annecy to Annecy-Semonz, 7:30 a.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Sunday, July 21 - Tour de France, Stage 21: Versailles to Paris Champs Élysées, 11:30 p.m., NBCSN (LIVE)
Sunday, July 28 - Tour de France Recap Show, 12:30 p.m., NBC

Live Online

Online Live Video Coverage - 2013 Tour de France
Eurosport Player Paid fee, find a promotional discount through Bike Radar, code TDF2013 (UK) or TDF2013-DEIR (Ireland) and you'll get 12 months subscription for the price of 11 (£32.88/€36.57). 280 hours of cycling, including 87 hours of live coverage. Not available for US citizens.

Online NBC TDF Live Tracking: Paid full access to Live and recorded video and features in the U.S. All Access $29.99 for entire tour, $4.99 for 1 Stage/1-Day Access. Must register and pay for service. Poorly pixeled image quality depending on laptop or desktop. (registration problem was corrected). (I could not find a "promotional code" being offered anywhere). Don't use Firefox with the site - Safari or Chrome okay. NBC coverage and commentary. Also you will be able to watch delayed tape on demand after the stage is complete.

Live Video at Cycling Central (SBS.com) in Australia only, not in the U.S. They also have a Tour de France app.

Live Video and taped interviews at itv.com Tour de France in Britain, not in the U.S. If you live in the UK, you can watch the Broom Wagon cleaning up on course, Live on itv during the stage at: Tour de France Broom Wagon Live. They also have a Tour de France app.

Steephill.TV Update: Free Eurosport links are no longer being provided in the USA via Steephill.
Steephill.TV has always been an invaluable resource for cycling fans. I visit Steve's site maybe 3 to 6 times a day looking for historic and current details. See the full list and links to live video or TV schedules at Steephill.TV in other countries around the world (scroll to the bottom of the page) Steephill.tv/tour-de-france/. Plus their links to news and video.
*Warning Live links: you may run the risk of placing malware on your HD if you click to download the software that blocks these live link screens, do not, it is not necessary, you can wait and hit the small x to get out of those ads. Beware. Sites for free viewing exist on the internet.

Race News and Daily Predictions Video

My favorite is back!! Tour Talk with Frankie Andreu and James Startt for Bicycling. This very entertaining and accurate race strategy preview is back for another year. Set in a backdrop fitting for each day's stage, these two banter and make you feel like you are there with them in France.

Behind the Scenes with the Teams

Orica GreenEDGE offers their quick 3 minute videos: Backstage Pass.

Also see team photos albums and videos shared on Facebook: List of team facebook pages.

Videos Libraries

A good source of highlight videos to catch up on any live race viewing you may have missed. Scan for the clips of the final kilometers or key interviews. These will save you tons of time which you may then put towards riding your own bike.

Very good Free pre-recorded videos for view at Global Cycling Network

Lots of Free daily pre-recorded videos added in the right column at CyclingFans.comhttp://cyclingfans.com/. Including interviews, interest stories, and race highlights.

More prerecorded Free videos highlights available at Steephill.tv/tour-de-france, also news links from the 4 or so standard cycling news sources. I especially appreciate the links to race recaps of the last 3-5km of the race. This is a good site to short cut to the news you may have missed.

Library of video interviews and features: Bicycling

Live Text Updates

I sometimes read live text updates to clarify who is in the breakaway or understand what is happening on the entire route when the TV cameras are focused only on the breakaway. They offer in the moment updates from the leaders to the team cars, plus additional race insights.

Official Live ASO Ticker by LeTour

Live blogging today by Michael O'Reilly at the Sydney Morning Herald. It goes live as the TV coverage does, on smh.com.au, theage.com.au and brisbanetimes.com.au home pages. Light-hearted, entertaining and informed. Free

Team SKY offer a full media presentation on the website with videos & photos, news and LIVE coverage. Free

CyclingNews Live Text Updates (online, and app below) Free 

Brian Holcombe et al, at VeloNews, is also doing Free Live Text Coverage of every stage of the TDF. Check their Facebook page daily for the link to Live Coverage, it is hard to find on their website.

Live Update Guy Charles Pelkey, Free but he asks for donations (frequently) to cover costs and has a small following of regulars who chime in. A bit of a distraction.


Apps can be a good if you are out on the road. They are a good source to check on time gaps and which riders are in the breakaway, but they can lag behind real race updates. 

Official le Tour app powered by Skoda app, Paid, read more and download.

CyclingNews Tour Tracker - a Free App, read more at that link and download to your device. This is live text updates, no video available on this app.
Social Media


I am not a big fan of reading Twitter during the race, it just takes up time and distracts from watching the real race. I would much rather get timely accurate news from real news sites. I do like to look through Twitter before and after a stage for tweets directly from the riders or team staff rather than the same 12 Twitter personalities. But this can be a huge suck on your time, and again, you need to be out riding your bike!

If you must, then focus in on the best: @MarkCavendish  @PhilippeGilbert  @MattRabin  @letour   @OnevePhoto  ‏@TDWsport  @DanWouri  @albertocontador  @bikeworldnews  @theRaceRadio  and that is about all you need along with your few favorites. Here is a public list of all teams and riders at the 2013 Tour de France. Easily select the teams and riders to follow from this list.


A great place to see photos and read other interest stories. See a list I created of the teams' FB pages at: 2013 Pro Teams, and Social Media links (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, websites).

Also my Pedal Dancer Facebook page.



There are several riders competing in the Tour who will be writing about their experience at the Tour de France.

Riders Richie Porte and John Degenkolb will be blogging for CyclingNews.com during the Tour de France.

Andrew Talansky will be journaling for VeloNews during the Tour de France

Jens Voigt writes his Hardly Serious column occasionally for Bicycling.com.

Ted King writes in his own blog I am Ted King, but also King Me for Bicycling.com

Training Peaks gives a review of How to Analyze a Tour de France Power File


Cycling News
Velo News
Pez Cycling

Gear Reveiws

Bike Radar


Cycling Tips 
Twisted Spoke

Pedal Dancer ! - Time for self promotion, I am after all a cycling blog on the Tour de France and France and Colorado, plus more. I will be writing almost daily on interest topics, travel, race result ponderings, sharing photos or news and whatever else catches my interest between 6:00-9:30 a.m.

Pedal Dancer recommended reading:

Preview of the centenary edition of 'La Grande Boucle', By Team SKY
Climbs in the 2013 Tour de France, By Climb By Bike
Tour de France - 21 Brief Stage Previews, By The Cycle Seen
Tour de France 2013: The race preview, By CyclingNews standard format
Why the 100th Tour Will Upstage the 2003 Centennial, By Wilcockson/Sunada
Tour de France: five classic mountain climbs By Giles Belbin
Five key stages of the 2013 Tour de France, By Tom Fish
Froome and co. perfectly prepared for the Tour, By Tim Kerrison for Team SKY
Tour de France 2013: Alberto Contador has the experience to rival tyros, By The Gaurdian
Tour de France 2013: team leader special – part I, By Tim Renowden
Tour de France 2013: team leader special (part II), By Tim Renowden
Tour de France 2013: team leader special (part III), By Tim Renowden

Fans and Cyclists

Dave Roscoe is a cyclist who is out riding every stage of the 2013 Tour de France to raise money for his cause. He is part of the Tour de Force group of cyclists riding all of the stages one week prior to the pros. Dave is posting on his facebook page as he pedals the route.

I like following the Bike Tour Companies or cyclists who live in France on Facebook as they bring their clients or themselves through France and live the tour is real life. In Situ Travel, Thomson Bike Tours, VeloClassic, Bikestyle, Velo Peloton, Cycling Languedoc.

Also I just joined the band wagon and started placing my blog posts on Facebook in May, so give me a follow since I am NEW and my Mother plus a few friends are following at this point: Pedal Dancer facebook page

My photos of some of the Media from the 2012 Tour de France!  click any image to enlarge

Photographers at the 2012 Tour de France.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Everything is news at the Tour de France.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
James Startt (the big kid) waiting to interview the Maillot Jaune outside the team bus.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Mobile Media Central at the Tour de France, where TV announcers hide inside these portable trailers.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And nearby leading Photographers for the Tour de France gather.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Where TV cameramen loom overhead.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And other journalists and photographers jam into position at the finish line.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Cyclists (here Rui Costa) are interviewed immediately after a tough stage.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And before they barely have time to dress and eat (here Sylvain Chavanel). Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Camera TVs are perched high on mountain tops.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And moto cameramen chace after any stage leader (Here Alejandro Valverde).  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And especially after the yellow jersey (here Bradley Wiggins).  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
But in the end, the only opinion that really matters is what the fans thought of the race!  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And that the Tour de France inspired you to get out and ride your own bike!  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
How will I be watching the Tour de France in 2013?

NBC Live tracking (on my second desktop screen)
VeloNews Live Text Updates
CyclingNews Tour Tracker iphone app text updates
Bike Radar Fantasy Team Tour de France
Facebook pages
Reading the individual rider columns
Scanning my google reader (homepage) for interesting title lines from all those news and blog sources listed above.

Peter Sagan's Supersix Evo Bike

Recommended Viewing: Peter Sagan's Bike

This is one amazing bike Sagan will be riding during the Tour de France. A Cannondal SuperSix EVO. Read more about the bike on Bike Radar Pro bike: Peter Sagan’s Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod 2013

My bike 

I too have black on the frame "to make it a little bit classy."

I love own my Cannondale EVO Supersix!
Now I need these shoes with the apple green to match my bike

27 June 2013

Americans at the Tour

Looking to those who now represent American Cycling

There are not many of them, but six talented Americans are honored to be slected by their teams to compete in the 2013 Tour de France. Six riders who are members of just 3 of the 22 total teams to compete in the Tour. Follow these riders as they compete in 21 stages across France in the next three weeks.

As fans we acknowledge that to be selected as one of 9 riders on a carefully chosen team is not only an incredible honor, it is a huge vote of confidence from the rider's team, it means they are the elite, ready to compete at the highest level in the sport of cycling. Plus it can be a money-maker for a rider.

The fact remains that the riders chosen to race in the Tour de France will make far more in this one race than many other races combined for the year. The prestige of winning a stage of the TDF or earning a classification jersey is huge. A rider can create their legacy in cycling history in one to twenty-one glorious days of extreme effort and victory.

198 riders will compete in the Tour de France this year, six were born in the United States of America.

Vive aux Americains!

Look for these riders on these teams in these jersey numbers:

#14Ted King USA
This will be Ted's 1st TDF, Read more about Ted King, follow him on Twitter @IamTedKing, or on his I am Ted King blog, or his King Me column at Bicycling.com.

#32Brent Bookwalter USA
This is Brent's 3rd TDF,  Read more about Brent Bookwalter, follow him on Twitter @BRentBookwalter, or on his website, or (blog)

#39Tejay Van Garderen USA
This is Tejay's 3rd TDF,  Read more about Tejay van Garderen, follow him on Twitter @TejayVan.

#173Tom Danielson USA
This is Tommy's 3rd TDF,  Read more about Tom Danielson, follow him on Twitter @TomDanielson, or his website

#178Andrew Talansky USA
This will be Andrew's 1st TDF,  Read more about Andrew Talansky, follow him on Twitter @AndrewTalansky, or his column for VeloNews.

#179Christian Vande Velde USA
This is Christian's 11th TDF,  Read more about Christian Vande Velde, follow him on Twitter @ChristianVDV

Recommended Reading: Andrew Talansky Journal: On the verge of a dream, for VeloNews. Andrew Talansky will be journaling for VeloNews during the entire Tour de France.

Recommended Reading: Ted King is on the adventure of his first Tour de France and writes a column at Bicycling.com, read: My First Tour de France.

Number of Riders by Country

With 198 riders total from 43 different countries, team Omega Pharma-Quickstep receives the award for bringing the most diverse squad of riders to the Tour with a rider from Great Britain, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Slovakia, and 2 riders from France all on the same team. I would also like to mention that I too have an extremely diverse fantasy team on BikeRadar. 

France - 42
Spain - 27
Italy - 18 
Netherlands - 17
Belgium - 12
Australia - 11
Germany - 10
Great Britain - 6
United States - 6 
Kazakhstan  4
Norway - 3
Belarus - 3
Switzerland - 3
Denmark - 3
Poland - 3
Russia - 3
Canada - 3
Luxembourg - 3
Slovakia - 2
Slovenia - 2
Ireland - 2
New Zealand - 2
Portugal - 2
Columbia - 2
Japan - 1
Sweden - 1
Brazil - 1
Czechoslovakia - 1
Lithuania - 1
Uzbekistan - 1
Latvia - 1
Costa Rica - 1
Estonia - 1
South Africa - 2 (Chris Froome & Daryl Impey!)

Full roster / start list of riders for the Tour de France: Tour de France 2013 official start list

ProCycling Stats lists the top ranked competitors (not necessarily GC contenders) as:
  1. Christopher Froome
  2. Peter Sagan
  3. Alejandro Valverde
  4. Joaquim, Rodriguez
  5. Alberto Contador
  6. Andre Greipel
  7. Tony Martin
  8. Mark Cavendish
  9. Edvald Boasson Hagen
  10. Rui Costa
  11. Tejay van Garderen
  12. Sylvain Chavanel
  13. Philippe Gilbert
  14. Richie Porte
  15. Alexander Kristoff 
See other interesting stats for the TDF by PCS, including top white jersey contenders and top GC contenders. The oldest rider is Jens Voigt (41), the youngest is Danny Van Poppel (age 19).

Also see a list of 2013 Pro Teams, and Social Media links (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Team Websites) By Pedal Dancer.]

Americans in Paris (circa 2010)
These same fans have shown up in Paris for years and years in a row.  Photo and short video clip by Karen of Pedal Dancer

26 June 2013

Most Popular Tourist Sites in France

Have you been to ?

The 2013 Tour de France will glimpse all 10 of the most visited tourist sites in France, a sure way to highlight and promote tourism in the country. France is after all the #1 tourist destination in the world! Tourism accounts for 6.5 % of France's GDP, with 80 million foreign tourists a year. Plus we all know the entire country goes on vacation themselves in July or August, helping French nationals to contribute more to tourism income than foreign visitors. Wow, they like their own country so much - they stick around on vacation!

The route of the 2013 Tour de France will not only keep Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett busy with their tourist and geography lessons during race coverage, it will offer a great distraction to fans to get out and see some of the nearby marvels. One could actually see all ten top tourist sites, if they moved really fast.

Musée du Louvre in Paris.   ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Tour Eiffel in Paris.  ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Musée d'Orsay in Paris.   ©Photo by Ken Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Arc de Triomphe in Paris.   ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®

Top-10 tourist attractions in France with most tourist visits last year: 
  1. Louvre Museum (8.5 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  2. Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Structure in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  3. Palace of Versailles (6 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 begins in the gardens (the park is closed for cars on July 21st!)
  4. Centre Pompidou (3.6 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  5. Musée d'Orsay (2.9 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  6. Musée du quai Branly (1.3 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  7. Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Structure in Paris; Stage 21 will race AROUND the arch on the Champs-Élysées this year instead of in front of it as usual. 

  8. Mont Saint-Michel (1 million), a Tidal Island off the northwestern coast; Stage 11 Inidividual Time Trial will finish at Mont Saint-Michel.
  9. Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille (800,000), Church in Marseille; Stage 5 will finish in the city of Marseille.
  10. Château de Chambord (711,000), largest Château in the Loire Valley; Stage 12 and 13 will finish and start in Tours, a one-hour drive from Chambord.
Let's not forget some of the other great tourist sites on the route of the TDF this year:

Corisca with it's Calanques de Piana cliffs near Ajacio. Nice and it's Castle Hill and Musee National Marc Chagall. Or the city of Albi with it's landmark Cathedral Ste-Cecile and Toulouse Lautrec Museum. Oft visited Aix-en-Provence or Annecy, and the very cool cities of Vaison-la-Romaine, Montpellier and Lyon.

Trip Advisor ranks the Top-10 regions of France. This year the Tour de France will travel through 8 of the 10 regions missing Limousin and Lorraine:
  1. Provence
  2. Corsica
  3. Dordogne Valley (Limousin)
  4. Brittany
  5. Auvergne
  6. Pyrenees
  7. Alps
  8. Normandy
  9. French Riviera - Cot d'Azur
  10. Vosges (Lorraine)
Regions of France
Trip Advisor also tallied their readers favorite Top-10 destinations in France in 2013: 
  1. Paris
  2. Nice
  3. Cannes
  4. Lyon
  5. Saint-Tropez
  6. Chamonix
  7. Avignon
  8. Marseille
  9. Biarritz
  10. Saint-Malo

Tour de France Stages and Tourism

There are certain stages that are must see in regards to race outcome, but other stages that are worth tuning into if you are a traveler interested in scenery or tourist sites or simply trying to decide where you want to next visit in France.

Below, the "Tourist Stages" are in bold black, with the best "Bike Racing" stages described in red.


Saturday, June 29thPorto-Vecchio > Bastia

Sunday, June 30thBastia > Ajaccio

Monday, July 1stAjaccio > Calvi - a must see stage!

Tuesday, July 2ndNice > Nice - Team Time Trial!

Wednesday, July 3rdCagnes-sur-Mer > Marseille

Thursday, July 4thAix-en-Provence > Montpellier

Friday, July 5thMontpellier > Albi

Saturday, July 6thCastres > Ax 3 Domaines - a must see stage!

Sunday, July 7thSaint-Girons > Bagnères-de-Bigorre - Pyrenees!

Monday, July 8thSaint-Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique

Tuesday, July 9thSaint-Gildas-des-Bois > Saint-Malo

Wednesday, July 10thAvranches > Mont-Saint-Michel - ITT & classic TDF!

Thursday, July 11thFougères > Tours

Friday, July 12thTours > Saint-Amand-Montrond

Saturday, July 13thSaint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon

Sunday, July 14thGivors > Mont Ventoux - a must see stage!

Monday, July 15thVaucluse - (I love this area!)

Tuesday, July 16thVaison-la-Romaine > Gap

Wednesday, July 17thEmbrun > Chorges - second and last ITT

Thursday, July 18thGap > Alpe-d’Huez - a must see stage!

Friday, July 19thBourg-d’Oisans > Le Grand-Bornand - (beautiful!)

Saturday, July 20thAnnecy > Annecy - Semnoz

Sunday, July 21stVersailles > Paris Champs-Élysées - a must see stage!

There will be four mountain top finishes this year, and if you are a cycling tourist & big fan - these count as top tourist sites as well:

Stage 8
Saturday, July 6th up Ax 3 Domaines
Stage 15
Sunday, July 14thup Mont Ventoux
Stage 18
Thursday, July 18thup Alpe-d’Huez
Stage 20
Saturday, July 20thup Annecy - Semnoz

Not a bad place to hang out as a tourist - the summit of Mont Ventoux.  ©Photo by Mike Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®

25 June 2013

Pyrenees Floods

Major Flooding in the Pyrenees

Before my friend Paddy Sweeney headed off to guide another group of hardy cyclists from coast to coast across the Pyrenees mountains, he was posting photos daily on his Pyrenees Cycling facebook page of the floods in the valley near his home in Saint Savin, France.

Myself and a number of friends have now visited Paddy in the Pyrenees at his La Lantern Rouge Cycling Lodge. We think of him daily as he reported first on record-level late snowfall and then on the destructive floods which last week angrily raged down the valleys into populated towns below, causing major destruction.

When a friend, Bill, whom I had met at Paddy's place in 2010 wrote to me to suggest that I post something about the floods because "not much had been written in mainstream cycling news," I realized I had been so wrapped up in watching Paddy's daily posts I had forgotten to tell the story myself.

Cyclists pepper the well-known climbs in this area. The climbs of the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Hautacam, Luz Ardiden, Soulor, Aspin, and others are out the back door. The Tour de France typically stays in this area for 3-4 stages every year, but in some great twist of good luck, this year the 100th route will only include 2 days in the Pyrenees mountains.

The recent floods have been devastating. The main flooding period took place between June 18-20, 2013. But the clean-up and repairs will take many months. Roads have been wiped out with major damage to the west side road leading to the Col du Tourmalet, plus many small villages along the borders of the regions rivers.

Nearby, residents and tourists were trapped up the road at Cauterets where the one road in and out was washed out. 

The road to Cauterets, June 2013.  Photo from BicyclingWeekly
Three days of very hot weather preceded the floods.

Pyrenees Floods
Notice the towns of Lourdes, Argeles-Gazost, Pierrefitte-Nestalas, Cauterets, Saint-Saveur, and Bareges. click image to enlarge

Below, Paddy took this photo on June 21st of the town where Paddy, his wife Olive and their son Sean live in Saint Savin.

Photo from Paddy Sweeney of VeloPeloton.com
Read Paddy's update here: The Great Flood and see more of his photos or follow his FB page for cycling photos and updates on conditions in the Pyrenees.

If you are a cyclist - you will not be able to ride to the top of the Col du Tourmalet from the west side. Yesterday Paddy and his group of cyclists were successfully able to ride to the top of the Tourmalet from Campan  / Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, on the East side. Paddy reports the city of Bareges, on the west side, well-known to many of us who have traveled in the area, was devastated and was evacuated by the Army. Repairs will take months. Lives and businesses have been changed.

The washed out road 3km from Bareges, on the west side, between Luz Saint Sauveur and the top of the Col du Tourmalet. Photo from Paddy Sweeney of VeloPeloton.com
See video near Bareges and Luz St Sauvier  (http://youtu.be/SOJ8EMef4Yo)

See video of the town of Pierrefitte-Nestalas, a village between Luz Saint Sauveur and Lourdes. Watch as the helicopter flies down the valley near Saint Savin, where Paddy lives up on a small hill safe from this devastation.

See video of Lourdes, 1800 Tourists and residents had to be evacuated from Lourdes and the Pilgrimage site was closed. (http://youtu.be/9jc5KZgRFrE)

Stage 9 of the 2013 Tour de France has been affected by the floods

Flooding occurred in some areas planned to be featured in Stage 9 of the TDF on July 7th. The town of Luchon (Bagneres du Luchon) was under water but most of the roads and bridges remained intact. The nearby town of St Mamet was badly hit. It is unknown at this point whether organizers will need to reroute Stage 9 if repairs are not completed; these repairs are a priority and the towns are confident of the route and that the Tour should not be affected.

Stage 9 of the 2013 Tour de France will travel through some of the affected flood areas.  Click any image to enlarge
Stage 9 of the 2013 TDF is 1 of 2 big stages in the Pyrenees this year. You can see that Bareges and Lourdes are just to the west of the stage route. The town of Luchon is marked as a Sprint points location on the Stage 9 route map above. Video footage in St Beat, down valley from Luchon, and directly on the route, show high waters flowing through the streets. The city is receiving rapid attention as it is a major gateway to Spain.

See video near St Beat, France

Read the CyclingWeekly article: Floods threaten Tour's Pyrenean stages

Some of the photos Paddy has been posting are featured in the article including this one of the damage in Luz Saint Sauveur. Luz is a village I have very fond memories of passing through on a bicycle over the years. It is so hard to see the damage and imagine the townspeople uprooted.

Big Mountains, Valleys, and Big Rivers

The Pyrenees mountain range separates Spain from France, with some of the highest points along the border. To understand the French Pyrenees is to understand that a series of almost parallel valleys run north from the mountain peaks, with high flowing rivers of snow-melt reaching into the lush farmlands below. Paddy lives near Argeles-Gazost in the Valley Laveden down valley from the Cauterets Valley labeled on this map.

To learn more about the Pyrenees read two of my previous posts: The Valleys of the Pyrenees and The Valleys of the Pyrenees in Pictures.

Read more descriptions of the valleys by Touradour

I wish everyone well and hope that safety, businesses and homes are soon restored.