15 July 2015

TDF Stage 12 Preview: Green hill after green hill

Haute, chaud, vert et une grande montagne

Let's start with a clear recommendation that you use a rider tracking app or website tomorrow to follow the action; refer directly to the profile map below - - >

After the Col de Portet d'Aspet there will be 15,5km up, 19km down, 16,5km up, 15km down, 36km up, 34,5km down, and finally 17,5km way, way up. Those are long repeats. The GC clan will be stuck together like glue tomorrow, trying to conserve energy, trying to survive in the heat. Until Chris Froome breaks away once again and the minions struggle to follow. Press and Twitter be damned at trying to ruin his Tour de France.

It's high, it's hot and it is green, it's another ski station at the top. By the time the riders reach the small town of Sex, it is expected to be 34℃ (93.2℉). They will be looking for the shade of any available tree lining the road.

By the town of Aspet the breakaway will be established, then it will be miles and miles of up and down and a VERY difficult climb at the end. Read the Stage 11 results for current GC standings and pick your man, you've probably noticed even the best in the biz get it wrong all the time. It is not important that your man win, it is important that you pick someone, this is sport, it makes watching the competition more fun. There is always the next stage.

Estimated finish of Stage 12: 16:57 CET (10:57 AM EDT, 8:57 AM MDT), they might be going slower in the heat. 

The entire peloton is going to be tired tomorrow night.
Lannemezan / Plateau de Beille195 km

This is really hard! No wonder I haven't climbed this last climb of Stage 12.

 The climbs
  • Km 57.5 - Col de Portet-d'Aspet (1 069 m) 4.3 kilometre-long climb at 9.7% - category 2
  • Km 93.0 - Col de la Core (1 389 m) 14.1 kilometre-long climb at 5.7% - category 1
  • Km 144.0 - Port de Lers (1 517 m) 12.9 kilometre-long climb at 6% - category 1
  • Km 195.0 - PLATEAU DE BEILLE (1 780 m) 15.8 kilometre-long climb at 7.9% - category HC

All photos by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer® 

The town of TARASCON-SUR-ARIÈGE awaits the fans

I visited this region in 2010 for 8 days. I remember commenting, "Someone could hide away in these hills for years and never be found." Plenty of water, places to grow food, steep valleys, rivers, dirt roads, lush foliage, and moderate temperatures. The Ariège department has been involved in many wars over the years. Castles won and lost.

I was riding my bike one day and suddenly got the creeps, I bet people hid out here during the war," I thought, 3km later I came across a plaque commemorating the poor souls who lost their lives gighting in the war and during an execution of town members during WWII. Pleasant tourism. The area stretching along this route of Stage 12 now has a wild, almost hippy (bohemian, gypsy) feel to it.

After so many days in the lush green hillside, I spontaneously fled south to Girona, Spain. Then up to Provence and Mont Ventoux. True story, I had green hill fever. I did enjoy exploring the many local climbs. I also stayed at a very hospitable cycling lodge while there (which is directly on the route of Stage 12 tomorrow) located in Biert called Les Deux Vélos.

Elma at Les Deux Vélos
Les Deux Vélos, a cycling lodge in the Ariege of France
Outside dinners
Les Deux Vélos Cycling Lodge is run by the nicest Dutch couple, Mark and Elma. Elma is the most fabulous (!!!) cook you can imagine. Meals are exceptional and some ingredients come fresh from their garden. They keep a log of record guest times up the Col de Port, out their backdoor. They have compiled a list of all the local cols, it'll keep you busy for days.

According to their profile map of Plateau de Beille - 3km from the top is when everything is going to splinter apart.

Riding in the Airege department of Haute-Loire, Pyrenees

All photos by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer® 

Beautiful roads through steep hillsides

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A prayer stop out on a climb

We are talking really rough roads in this area:



Fresh flowing rivers

Nice villages

A Spanish influence (near the town of Sex)

Bread in the market in Foix

Morning market fresh peaches and cherries in Massat

Fantastic patio views (this one is atop the Col de Port) - I could have sat there all day.

Endless bike riding.

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