One Rainy Weekend

What a weekend at the Tour de France! Even for those who say the GC battle is over after one week (and they are right), it was a mad dash weekend across the Alps.

By Laura Fletcher

With the weather of epically bad proportions, surprise winners and a reminder of just how cruel and heartbreaking this sport can be.

10 min read by Laura Fletcher

On Saturday we watched Tadej Pogacar attack from the GC group in a daring show

As the break faltered and fell apart across the Col de Romme and the showdown happened up the Col de la Colombiere. Although neither of these climbs might be as famous as some of their neighbours, the forested feeling, cool from the scorching summer sun is a great relief compared to some other mountains. It can be quite intimidating and feel endless, (not to Pogacar clearly) but reaching that peak at 1600 metres, the reward is worth the challenge. A strong ride from Dylan Teuns saw him take the stage win, as he managed the downhill run in, cresting the climbs with ease and grace, having paced himself well over the day.

None of us envied the riders on the descent that day

The rain lashed down, but we just try to picture it like we want it: with a late spring sun shooting through the trees in the early evening.

This year there are only two true Alpine stages before the Tour carries on and they were not without drama, as we saw GC hopes wither and fade away, as we saw the yellow jersey change hands, and we watched the bunch reduce in size even on the start line.

The truth is, the tour is always epic in the Alps if it’s Chris Froome running with his bike, or Tom Simpson, the legend of Ventoux…

There isn’t a place to turn that doesn’t hold the ghosts of cyclists before.

Sunday those ghosts increased, now a long list of names: Demare, Guarnieri, Delaplace, De Bod, Vliegen, Coquard, and Dlamini.

The ghosts of Tour glory dashed by a finish “OTL” or Over Time Limit.

As Ben O’Connor soloed to his first victory in this race, at a furious pace, the relentless weather beat down on the sports strong men, and the slippery roads further held up riders from crashes.  Some sprinters narrowly made the time cut but some sadly were left behind.

But one doesn’t become a legend of the Tour De France just by winning. Nic Dlamini captured that status Sunday by bravely finishing the stage, rolling in just after 7 pm, 90 minutes after the winner. Nic is the first black South African to compete in the Tour, and the crowds and emotions that followed him into Tignes will be remembered equally as the day’s winner.

The stage took on the Col de Pré, leaving Beaufort and going 12 kilometres up at an average of 7.7%, hard enough on its own. But then to be followed up immediately by the Cormet de Roseland. The valley between is one of the most beautiful in the region, a tucked-away haven, sadly not on its best show on Sunday with the heedless clouds. 

Day 2 of our French Alps Traverse Tour takes in these roads

French Alps Traverse Tour Highlights

Discover the Aravis mountain range with stunning views of the Mont Blanc

See the Olympic resort of Les Saisies

Explore Beaufortain and its famous cheese, the Beaufort (possibility to visit the cheese cooperative)

Views of turquoise waters of Lake Roseland, surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery

Passes of the day

Col des Aravis, 1486 m

Col des Saisies, 1650 m

Col du Joly, 1989 m (level 3, optional)

Col du Pré, 1703m (level 3)

Cormet de Roselend,1967 m

The second day of this tour leaves the alps, even with a start line in Albertville, of sporting fame, a day for the sprinter’s returns, with a mad dash to Valence. We are sure it’s a hasty goodbye to a few dark days of racing, where rain clouds dashed dreams, tyres gave way to the unforgiving roads and stories will be told for decades to come.

The Tour is the tour. Bring on the Pyrenees.

By Laura Fletcher