06 July 2013

Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 8

Stage 8 Results and Stage 9 Race Day Planning

Its' a brand new race!

All that matters is this:
General Classification after Stage 8
GBR  1  FROOME, Christopher (SKY PROCYCLING)       32:15:55
AUS  2  PORTE, Richie (SKY PROCYCLING)               +   51
ESP  3  VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR TEAM) + 1:25
NED  4  MOLLEMA, Bauke (BELKIN PRO CYCLING)          + 1:44
NED  5  TEN DAM, Laurens (BELKIN PRO CYCLING)        + 1:50
CZE  6  KREUZIGER, Roman (SAXO-TINKOFF)              + 1:51
ESP  7  CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (SAXO-TINKOFF)     + 1:51     
COL  8  QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR TEAM)+ 2:02
ESP  9  RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA)            + 2:31
AUS  10 ROGERS, Michael (SAXO-TINKOFF)                 + 2:40
And this (BIG time gaps): General Classification standings 2013 Tour de France

Stage 8 wrecked havoc today in the peloton as a 150lb Chris Froome made that look really easy. Although the faces on the other riders showed that is was anything but easy. When the phrase "average 8%," is used, a knowing cyclist cringes - we know that phrase describes a climb where measuring begins on the early 4 percent slope sections. Which means looming on the upside of 8% is insanely steep 10% to average it all out, and plenty of 10%.

There are prominent numbers in the Pyrenees - 4%, 8% 10%, and oh my god did you see that 15% sign. That is the point in which an amateur cyclist's only motivation to keep going is because it is really hard to remount a bicycle on a 15% climb. Meanwhile the pros truly are dancing on the pedals. If they are sitting and grinding - you know it is really really steep. Today was a grind.

Today I was riveted to the scene on the screen as rider after rider popped off the back. Thanks to the great side-coverage by VeloNews Live Coverage text updates, I could keep up on who was seeing the yellow jersey slip away with every agonizing pedal stroke.

The big question was answered today. Chris Froome has come to France prepared to win the Tour de France. But can he and his team hold onto the yellow jersey earned today for an additional two exhausting weeks of racing?

This matters as well ... tomorrow:
Stage 9 profile - 186.5km of Pyrenees greatness.
Tomorrow they climb a relatively short stage, with a screaming fast descent into Bagneres-de-Bigorre, but 5 climbs separate the start in Saint-Girons and the finish in Bagneres. Nerves will be high and lots of planning will take place within the teams tonight. They'll be analyzing which guys were in good form (or not so good form) today and changing up tactics.

Classification Jersey - after Stage 8
YELLOW - Christopher Froome (SKY)
GREEN - Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
POLKA DOT - Christopher Froome (SKY)
WHITE -  Nairo Alexander Quintano Rojas (Movistar) 
COMBATIVE - Nairo Alexander Quintano Rojas (Movistar) 
TEAM - Movistar
LANTERNE ROUGE - Tom Veleers (Argos-Shimano)
Full list of overall GC standings here: General Classification standings 2013 Tour de France

Video: Stage 8 Highlights at the Tour de France Bicycling 
Video: Stage 8 Winner's Interview NBC Sports
Video: Tour Talk James and Frankie - Stage 8! in a gondola

Photo of the Day
Froome and Froome alone.  Photo from Team SKY album
TOMORROW'S STAGE

Stage 9 Race Day Plans

Stage 9   Sunday, July 7th    Saint-Girons - Bagnères-de-Bigorre - Pyrenees!

Location of Stage 9 tomorrow - one last day in the Pyrenees.

TRAVEL

The mountain villages in the Pyrenees suffered terribly in the floods of June 2013. Homes, businesses and roads were damaged badly, with loss of life. Extensive clean-up and rebuilding is currently taking place. The route for tomorrow is clear but a word of support should be said for the strong people in this region who must now rebuild their lives. Read: Pyrenees Floods, By Pedal Dancer.

I have been along this entire route; completely in 2010, but have visited other sections to tackle climbs in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012. Although the Vallee d'Ossau and Valle Lavanden (just west of this stage's route) are my favorites in the Pyrenees, I have very fond memories of the climbs and days spent along tomorrow's route.

Saint-Girons is a small peaceful town in the lush green Ariege. The climb of Col de Portet d'Aspet is well-known for it's Fabio Casartelli memorial and winding rock-wall lined road. Dropping off the Col de Mente into the Vallee Luchon - up and over the Col de Peyresourde we climb, a sharp left turn places us on the steep climb over the Col d' Azet, down the Vallee d'Aure and onto one of my very favorite climbs in the entire region - La Horquette d'Ancizan. A small goat path (up valley from Arreau) made bigger in 2011 when the Tour de France first used this hidden gem.  From there it is a bit of a hop up the remainder of the Col d'Aspin just to get out of the high hanging valley, and then a super fast long risk-taking descent onto increasingly larger roads into the city blocks of Bagneres-de-Bigorre.

The stage win will go not only to a climber among a few breakaway groups but a technically sound descender.

Fabio Casartelli memorial on Col de Portet d'Aspet.  Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Photos of the climbs in tomorrow's stage

Okay, this will take me well into the evening to compile photos from so many days and years riding these climbs, so for now I offer you these posts: (please check back as I add images of tomorrow's stage 9)
The magnificent Vallee d'Aure where the climb of Horquette d'Ancizan begins just to the lowe right. of the picture.  Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Horquette d'Ancizan.  Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®

The Valleys of the Pyrenees in Pictures By Pedal Dancer®

Best Climbs in the 2013 Tour de France By Pedal Dancer® 

All of the climbs in tomorrow's Stage 9 are recommended rides! You can break the climbs down into 3 sections for the race tomorrow. Each section could have differing results as the riders are truly tested. click any image to enlarge

Stage 9 in three sections - for the riders of the TDF and for Cycling Tourists. Map by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
As a traveling tourist these 3 sections also happen to correlate well with how you can best tackle the climbs in these three areas of the Pyrenees. Accommodations can be easily found in or near Saint Giron (Massat), in Luchon, Arreau, and Bagneres. Modified loop routes on parts of each section covering these climbs are possible for cyclists based in the locations mentioned or nearby valleys.

More photos to come of each section ....... 

Section 1 of Stage 9 in the Pyrenees:
Locations of the climbs of Col de Portet d'Aspet and Col de Mente in the Pyrenees. 
Section 2 of Stage 9 in the Pyrenees:
Location of the climbs of Col de Peyresourde and Col d'Azet in the Pyrenees
Section 3 of Stage 9 in the Pyrenees:
Location of the wonderful climb of La Horquette d'Ancizan.
Recommended ride in the Pyrenees - one of my very favorites anywhere: A loop ride of La Horquette d'Ancizan and the Col d'Aspin. Read: Magnificent day in the Haute-Pyrenees, By Pedal Dancer.
You gotta ride this! 
Recommended Reading:

The Cruelest Climbs, By Frankie Andreu for Bicycling. What it feels like to climb in the Pyrenees.

Birthday Girl!

Also today is my wonderful sister-in-law Suz's birthday - Happy Birthday Suz!!
Suz has a definite love of pro cycling - please see photos of Suz and many of her favorite riders over thirteen years of chasing races: The Tour Hag

Sylvain Chavanel, Suz, and me at the Amgen Tour of California in May 2013.  Photo by Mike for Pedal Dancer®

Related posts by Pedal Dancer:
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 7
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 6
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 5
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 4
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 3
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 2
Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 1
Tour Travel - Tour de France Stage 1, 2, 3
2013 World and National Champions in the Tour de France
Most Popular Tourist Sites in France  
The Tour De France Explained in Animation
The 100th Tour de France 
How to Watch the Tour de France
Travel to Provence, France
Best Climbs in the 2013 Tour de France

Preview of the centenary edition of 'La Grande Boucle', By Team SKY