Tour de France, Stage 19 – Reality Check

Today’s stage, if you haven’t heard already, was a nail biter from the git-go. Contador attacked on the Telegraphe; that is, the very first part of the very first climb on the day. I’ll take whatever he’s on! What a champion though to make a move like that, although I won’t give up anything to Andy’s similar risky ride yesterday.

I’m not going to give you the results, in case you are waiting to get home and see the highlights, but you might remember that I, along with nearly 10,000 others, raced this very course last week, making this stage a bit more personal than the previous 18.

Other than it being a joy to watch other people suffer up the same 3 mythic climbs I did, it was a tad depressing to see how fast they were doing it. It seemed like they sprinted up Telegraphe and Galibier, and I had barely enough time to drink my beer on the Alpe d’Huez. Incredible speeds. How fast?

Today’s winner crossed the line at 3 hours and 19 minutes, or an average speed of around 33 kph (remember, this is nearly all vertical riding)! I finished in 5 hours 40 minutes, or just under 20 kph. I think I’ve got some more training to do.

Tomorrow’s time trial, by the way, is not to be missed. Cancel everything (including sleep North Americans) to watch it.

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14 thoughts on “Tour de France, Stage 19 – Reality Check

  1. Isn’t amazing what raw natural talent and a good drug program will do for cycling performance. Read the book “Bad Blood” which provides great insight into how deep the drug and blood doping issue is within the Tour and pro cycling in general. At least it’s an equal playing field as they’re all on something. If they’re not, the 20% performance disadvantage would be too much to remain competitive. As the 5 time winner of the Tour, Benard Hinault was once quoted when asked if he believed drugs were used by the riders, he said, “no one wins the Tour on pasta and water”. All that said, I love the Tour for its drama, and excitement. It’s the greatest sporting event in the world. At least in my humble opinion.

    PS: I’m still impressed in your beer assisted 5:40. And let’s not forget, you were also taking pictures along the route, which I didn’t see and of the pro’s doing today.

    • Did Karsten tell you I had a beer the day before the race?? And I thought I could trust that guy 😉

      Yes, I try to stay ignorant about the doping – it’s much more pleasant that way. If you read the book about Tom Simpson (Put Me Back on My Bike) you realize what sort of mad concoctions of drugs and alcohol those guys induced before AND during the race. Of course things are a bit more hush hush these days.

  2. I don’t know about you, Gerry, but it takes me a good 10 minutes to properly set up a photograph. You took about 12 pics on your Etape, meaning you lost two hours in your selfless desire to share your experience with us. Had you not taken the pics, you would have been right in the thick of things today and that brings us to the obvious question – when do you turn pro?

  3. I want to know if you ever ran into the same type of crowds on your race….I kind of liked the guy in the devil suit have seen him many times on this years race…. and the guy in the 2 piece bikini…next time when u go to a race you have to let us North Americans know where, near what mileage marker or corner you are going to run naked beside the racers……ok drop the run part just tell us where…..

  4. The Tour’s suddenly got very exciting this week. I’m particularly enjoying seeing the cops or the stewards grabbing those annoying people who run alongside the riders and shoving them back where they belong. Contador thumped one guy too, good for him.
    I’m with Steve on reckoning that it’s your photo-taking that is the only thing slowing you down. I’m even more impressed now that you raced up those three climbs, having seen them on the TV. They were truly, truly scary.

    • I’m with you. I even saw a fellow fan (a big fan) grab on guy and yank him off the road. The Italians (in the Giro) seem to have cops along all the climbs to keep the order. I’m not sure why the TdF lacks them so badly. At least a few more motorcycles to protect the riders, maybe?

      I also agree with your ‘scary’ assessment. When I saw the sky shots of Galibier and Alpe d’Huez yesterday I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell I climbed them. And yeah, this year’s Tour is as close as you can get. By the way, if you know what the odds were on Evans before the Tour started, please don’t tell me because I had him picked from the beginning….and didn’t put my money where my mouth was.

  5. It was a great race to watch. We were there last week for the L’Etape tour. Lots of fun with so much bike stuff going on! Check out my blog!

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