July 21, 2004

Tour de France 2004 Stage 17 - Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand

Today was the dreaded day of the tour climbing two Hors (beyond) category climbs. Tammy took a sick day today and stayed in the hotel to accelerate her recovery (I’m glad to say I think it helped a lot). I took the shuttle to the stage. The plan was to ride about 40k to the base of the Madelaine and then climb up a ways to watch the tour. We ran short on time so we just ended up going to the base of the mountain and climbing.

The Madelain is a beast. It’s a 19.8 km climb with an average gradient of 7.8%. Technically it doesn’t pitch up the way Alpe d’Huez does but it’s nearly twice the length. A fit recreational rider will take 2 hours to climb the Madelaine. Two hours. That’s two hours of going up, constantly. The roads in Alpes are never flat. They just go up at a constant rate. There is no recovery flats, just up. You look up the road panting and sweating and it’s just more up. Forever.

I didn’t finish the climb. I ran low on water after an hour of climbing. In that hour I made it about 7 km up the climb and 600 vertical meters. The entire climb is around 2000 meters so I did about 1/3rd of the climb. That was enough. I am after all, on vacation.

It was another great day for the tour and I got to watch le train bleu” on the front. Floyd Landis did a piece of work for Lance today that will redefine him as a domestique. It was amazing to watch.

We watched the stage on the tour bus as we drove home. There was a huge roar in the bus when Lance sprinted in the last 100 meters to take the stage from Kloeden. He seems to be incredibly on form this year.

France Tour de France Cycling Travel

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Tour de France 2004 Stage 18 - Annemasse to Lons-le-Saunier Today we left Grenoble and departed for Beaune where we will spend the next 2 nights. We rode on the bus to the stage about an hour from Beaune and