18 July 2013

Tour Travel - Tour de France after Stage 18

Stage 18 Results and Stage 19 Race Day Planning

Up down around and up

Anyone who watched today's stage likely had these thoughts: 1) That is one tough climb, 2) The fans were a little much, 3) That was a goat path of a descent, 4) What kind of components does Tejay van Garderen use, 5) Why did Contador take a timely switch of bikes after it was announced that bikes would be weighed at the finish, 6) Who is Christophe Riblon, and 7) Is tomorrow's stage really that hard?

1). That is one tough climb:
Yes it is - relentless steepness. With 21 switchbacks that are themselves relatively flat giving the feeling of almost gaining speed on the corners, after each bend the road rears up to bite you in the face. Suddenly your handlebars appear to be at your chest level and the steepness slams you time and again, corner after corner although the steady grade is measured at averaging 8%.

For amateur riders cruising up the climb, the views are spectacular, the sign posts with the past winners names on each switchback quite entertaining, and it doesn't take that long to complete. The difference in the engineering of the road to Alpe d'Huez becomes very apparent to any American used to slightly steeper corners and flatter grades between corners. It is the perfect road to test the best and iconic in the world of cycling.
flat corner steep grade
Please read more at: Climbing Alpe d'Huez By Pedal Dancer®

Peter Sagan - Wheelie en Alpe d'Huez - Tour 2013 

2). The fans were a little much
For the pros who are consumed with maximum pain in riding Alpe d'Huez - FAST, they are not enjoying the views, all they see is this, with fans running into their path. Mostly they are zoned out and pros don't get to this level without having the ability to block out much that does not concern them in a race.
How do they ride through that madness?
Still, we all know what it feels like to be on the rivet when even the slightest movement can raise our heartbeat and falter our pedal stroke. I can't imagine the pain and delay that fans who break a rider's concentration or momentum can cause. It seems unfair to witness and I can't help but yell at the screen "get out of the way!" 

There was footage of Tejay shoving a fan in his way and of Riblon shoving another. David Millar was serious when he ran his campaign last week for fans not to run next to the riders. I think fans will have to start taking other fans out for infractions - a little mob control could help.

VeloNation interview with van Garderen: “It was hard,” van Garderen said afterwards. “The crowds – I love the crowds, but every now and then you get one or two guys who get too rowdy out there. But it was an amazing feeling being at the front of the race at the Tour de France on such an iconic climb.”

Video of the take-down on Alpe d'Huez of a fan running next to Tejay, ... and the fight after.  

360˚ shot of Alpe d'Huez full view of riders passing and the massive crowd of fans.

Experience all 21 switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez, one of the Tour de France's most feared climbs. By Bicycling

GCN Tour De France 2013 - Alpe D'Huez - With The Fans At Dutch Corner

Video: Welcome to Dutch Corner By Bicycling.com (watch the video, then watch this video referred to of Laurens Ten Dam on Alpe d'Huez cheering on the fans in 2011 watch video)

3). That was a goat path of a descent!
Yes it was. Small and narrow and intended more for a secondary access to a ski resort and nearby property, the Col de Sarenne was closed to most fans today. Cars and motorcycles had strict instructions on placement and team cars were not easily accessible for riders (Tejay's dilemma), but the helicopters gave us a great view of a climb many of us were probably intrigued enough to go give it a try sometime, but much much slower, and maybe up instead of down.
Tricky descent of Col de Sarenne
Read: Goodbye, Alpe d’Huez By Jens Voigt. Jens wrote, "... in my opinion the Col de Sarenne is just the stupidest descent that I have done in my career. It is more or less a goat path. And even for the goats it is dangerous! You don’t ride down that descent, you jump and bump down it."

4). What kind of components does Tejay van Garderen use?
Team BMC is sponsored by Shimano and uses Di2. Are you curious about what equipment the other teams use? please read these posts by Pedal Dancer®:
Video: van Garderen experiences gear problems on Col de Sarenne (01:37 English)nbcsports

In an interview with Velonation, Tejay said, “It wasn’t an equipment failure and it wasn’t any sort of a problem that the mechanic did. It was just bad luck, it could happen to anyone,” he said.

5). Why did Contador take a timely switch of bikes after it was announced that bikes would be weighed at the finish?
Well it could have been obvious, but there is a weight limit for road bikes in the Tour de France which is a minimum of 6.8 K (14.991 lbs). It was announced that bikes would be weighed after the finish of Stage 18 to ensure that lighter weight bike exchanges were not made by team cars to riders during the race. It could have been that Alberto Contador was exchanging for a greater weight bike.

6). Who is Christophe Riblon?
What he is, is clear - durable and persistent. He over-cooked a turn and rode off the road, he met the center divider at the large round about before turning toward the climb of Alpe d'Huez and he bounced back both times including after being dropped by Tejay van Garderen. Christophe Riblon was all over the road today, but beneath his indestructible veneer was a calm trained track rider who knew his ability to reel a rider back in, and that is exactly what he did today. Although excruciating to watch Tejay van Garderen be overcome in the last 1km of the race, it felt good to watch a Frenchman win this iconic stage in the 100th year and know his name will forever be etched on bend #15 of Alpe d'Huez.

"When I was about eight years old, I saw on the TV a victory of a cyclist at Alpe d'Huez and I hoped that one day maybe I could do it too." ~ Christophe Riblon
Photo from Steephill.TV
Riblon falls into a marsh (00:44 English)nbcsports
Christophe Riblon's palmares AG2R La Mondiale Pro Cycling Team 
 
7). Is tomorrow's stage really that hard?
Yes! Expect another stage with attacking, cracking, and big changes. The race is tight for the second and third step on the podium on the final day in Paris - which is only 3 stages away. Read more about tomorrow's stage below.

For travelers - the scenery will be spectacular on Stage 19 and the road through Manigod is THE MOST spectacular road I have cycled. TV cameras should be showing coverage live of this section between Les Clefs and Col de la Croix Fry. Next to the Pyrenees and Mont Ventoux, Le Grand Bornand area is my favorite place to ride in France. Plenty of good rides including the Col du Columbiere and Col de l‘Aravis.
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Manigod France  Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Photos of the day - on Stage 18 to Alpe d'Huez

It looked like any typical day racing through the Alps ...
Peloton crests the top of Col de Sarenne
The yellow jersey group in the 2013 Tour de France on Alpe d'Huez. Photo from Steephill.TV
Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault on Alpe d'Huez, then and now.
Beer handups on Alpe d'Huez

Grabbing a beer to go on Alpe d'Huez
STAGE 18 RESULTS
Stage 18 Results
FRA  1  RIBLON, Christophe (AG2R LA MONDIALE)          4:51:32
USA  2  VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING)               +   59
ITA  3  MOSER, Moreno (CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING)         + 1:27
COL  4  QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR TEAM)+ 2:12
ESP  5  RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA)            + 2:15
AUS  6  PORTE, Richie (SKY PROCYCLING)                 + 3:18
GBR  7  FROOME, Christopher (SKY PROCYCLING)           + 3:18       
ESP  8  VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR TEAM)   + 3:22
ESP  9  NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (EUSKALTEL EUSKADI)      + 4:15
DEN  10 FUGLSANG, Jakob (ASTANA PRO TEAM)              + 4:15       
ESP  11 CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (SAXO-TINKOFF)       + 4:15       
CZE  12 KREUZIGER, Roman (SAXO-TINKOFF)                + 4:31
AUS  13 ROGERS, Michael (SAXO-TINKOFF)                 + 4:45
USA  14 TALANSKY, Andrew (GARMIN SHARP)                + 4:49
General Classification after Stage 18
GBR  1  FROOME, Christopher (SKY PROCYCLING)           71:02:19
ESP  2  CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto (SAXO-TINKOFF)       +  5:11
COL  3  QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR TEAM)+  5:32
CZE  4  KREUZIGER, Roman (SAXO-TINKOFF)                +  5:44
ESP  5  RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA)            +  5:58
NED  6  MOLLEMA, Bauke (BELKIN PRO CYCLING)            +  8:58
DEN  7  FUGLSANG, Jakob (ASTANA PRO TEAM)              +  9:33
Classification Jerseys - after Stage 18
YELLOW - Christopher Froome (SKY)
GREEN - Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
POLKA DOT - Christopher Froome (SKY) / wearing: Christophe Riblon (AG2R)
WHITE - Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
COMBATIVE - Christophe Riblon (AG2R)
TEAM - Team Saxo-Tinkoff
LANTERNE ROUGE - Tom Veelers (ARgos-Shimano) + 03h 34' 56"
STAGE  - Christophe Riblon (AG2R)
Full list of overall GC standings here: General Classification standings 2013 Tour de France

STAGE 19 RACE DAY PLANNING

Stage 19  Friday, July 19th  Bourg-d’Oisans - Le Grand-Bornand  beautiful!

Stage 19 from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand
204.5 km, 5 climbs, the first 2 climbs are HC

Stage 19 is all about the climbs. Riders must show up awake, warmed up and ready to begin racing at kilometer five. The first two climbs are rated HC because of their length and steepness, the last three climbs are shorter but just as steep, or more so.

Km 33.5 - Col du Glandon (1 924 m) 21.6 kilometre-long climb at 5.1% - category H
Km 83.5 - Col de la Madeleine (2 000 m) 19.2 kilometre-long climb at 7.9% - category H
Km 143.0 - Col de Tamié (907 m) 8.6 kilometre-long climb at 6.2% - category 2
Km 165.0 - Col de l'Épine 6.1 kilometre-long climb at 7.3% - category 1
Km 191.5 - Col de la Croix Fry (1 477 m) 11.3 kilometre-long climb at 7% - category 1

Stage 19 route profile
First 2 HC climbs in Stage 19
Last three climbs of Stage 19

Please read more at: Best Climbs in the 2013 Tour de France  By Pedal Dancer®

First climb is up the Col du Glandon, just around the corner from Alpe d'Huez
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Col de la Madeleine
Photo from ViciousCycling blog
Col de l'Épine
Photo from LeDauphine.com
Riding the gentle Col de Tamié
That is me, riding the gentle Col de Tamie. Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Climbing to Col de la Croix Fry
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Road between Manigod and Col de la Croix Fry 
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Continuing directly over Col de la Croix Fry
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
And into Le Grand Bornand
Photo© by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Recommended Bed & Breakfast (and remarkable Chef), nearby in Thones: Le Clos Zenon - Thones, French Alpes