Friday, July 15, 2011

Thor de France

LOURDES, FRANCE

Yesterday I had a problem with a loose spoke on my rear wheel and the wheel was out of true. I blamed the wheel rubbing on the brake for my dragging up the Tourmalet and really suffering up that climb.

The local bike shop in St. Lary opened at 9:00 a.m. so Adrian Register and I decided we would see if they could true the wheel before today's ride. They couldn't. Since we didn't get on the road until after 9:00 a.m. by the time we reached Lourdes we knew our original plan of a 70-mile loop ride would not occur.

We wanted to ride and to see a stage finish and by the time we got rolling we knew our best course of action would be to ride out and back. We would have to keep an eye on the time to be back by the time they closed the roads at 2:00 p.m.



Team Radio Shack

Surprising, less than 10 km from Lourdes, we were on a flat part of the course when I spotted the tell tale signs of evil. Freshly painted on the asphalt were the Devil's pitchfork. I looked up and saw him and stopped. Photo time.






Many people come to the Tour and hope to see the Devil. Getting a picture is an extra bonus. I got a picture yesterday and now, another one. I told Adrian no matter what happened, I was happy. My day was complete. My Tour was complete.


The Devil with Adrian Register

We rode out to Argeles-Gazost where the road turned up. Steep, but this was not the climb up the Col du Soulor. We hit a plateau and went through a small town. I got laughing as I passed a house where some kids, probably ages 10-12, we're yelling out "hello" to passing riders. They were practicing their English. So I greeted them with a cheery hello as well. And they were pleased.





We were watching the time and it was shortly after 1:00 when we turned up the climb to the Soulor which would lead to the Aubisque. If we continued we would be stuck in place so we decided to turn around and get back to Lourdes.







At Lourdes we were able to ride inside the barriers until the 1km flag. At that point the course was closed. We walked our bikes for the final kilometer but it was very slow going through the massive crowds. We found the team buses and our plan was to be at the chute where they pass through although we couldn't get close to that.





Back in town, we took up position on the barriers to watch the caravan go by. It was quite comical because seemingly anything thrown to a French kid would bounce off their hands and into mine. It helped growing up playing sports where we used our hands. And as I did last year during the Tour, anything I caught I handed it to a kid.




After watching the caravna go by we moved to the 1K "kite." Here we could see them fly by and watch the race on TV.


The 1K Kite before the race

There were a number of Norwegians on our corner but Thor Hoshovld had to overtake two French riders to win. I knew the Norwegians would cheer when Thor made his break but it seemed like everyone was cheering when Thor went ahead with 2k to go.





When we saw Thor fly by, we made our way to the team buses to see most of the riders come back.


1K Banner and TV

It was a different way to see the tour but got us close to many riders. 



Frank Schleck


And I got a picture with the Devil.


Roster on Team Bus Leopard Trek
Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Oliver Zaugg, Bruno Pires
Jens Voigt, Dominic Klemme, Fabian Wegmann, Robert Wagner, Linus Gerdemann
,Davide Viganò, Daniele Bennati, Giacomo Nizzolo, Maxime Monfort, Wouter Weylandt
Jakob Fuglsang, Anders Lund, Martin Mortensen, Martin Pedersen, Brice Feillu
Will Clarke, Stuart O'Grady, Stefan Denifl, Tom Stamsnijder, Joost Posthuma
BOLD = Riders at TdF





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