Friday, July 5, 2013

Stage Six

It was no challenge finding a bar in la Cavalerie.  As the name implies, it is a military town by a huge  base up on a relatively barren high plateau.  I have fond memories of the base despite the long, hard climb to reach it, as Craig and I camped in one of its forested areas a few years ago on our ride to Mont-Saint-Michel despite signs warning that it was a target range.  There was no ordnance laying about so we had no qualms of making it a campsite.

And I can now associate more fond memories with it having watched an hour of The Tour de France at one of its many bars.  It wasn't a particularly dramatic stage, as the winds were too fierce, as I can attest, for a breakaway to form, the peloton riding in one huge cluster spread across the road, rather than strung out as it usually is.

The sprint finish though was a classic, with the four heavy-weights going toe to toe.  Cavendish, the reigning champ took it to the chin, staggering in fourth, heightening the suspense of all the sprints to come, proving he's vulnerable despite yesterday's easy win making all the others look like chumps.  Today it was Greipel's turn to look invincible, earning his first win this year, after three at last year's Tour.  Greipel is a literal heavyweight compared to the diminutive Cavendish.  Sagan despite being in the green jersey was thwarted again from a win coming in second.  Kittel, who won the first stage sprint was third.  Cavendish had  some justifiable excuses.  He crashed towards the end of the stage and his team radios weren't working so none of his teammates could drop back and help him regain the peloton.  Evidently he hasn't fully bonded with his new Belgium team, as he ought to have a couple teammates shepherding him and tending to his needs at all times.  He is the team's bread ticket. Also, he received no lead-out as he did the day before from his team, as they had all expended themselves.  They will all be seeking redemption in today's rematch to Albi, the last sprinter's stage if the rolling terrain hasn't done them in before the peloton hits the Pyrenees the next day.

And I will regain the peloton in Albi myself, and equally exciting is I will meet up with Tour fanatic, the ever-exuberant Yvon.  He's driving down from Degagnac, sixty miles away,  for his annual Tour homage. He'll be able to give me a ride back to Degagnac making a most important and crucial dent in the 400 miles I have to cover in three days up to Brittany, a hop the peloton will be making by air after its two days in the Pyrenees. Thanks to Yvon I will be able to partake of all the festivities in Albi and watch the finish live.  If not for his transport I'd have to leave as soon as I arrived around noon to keep piling up the miles. 

My legs ought to be able to manage it as long as the winds aren't as pesky as they were today, holding my average speed to ten miles per hour and just 85 miles for the day.  I was still able to get within 35 miles of Albi, so that was okay.  I was just hoping to get a little further down the road so I could swing down and camp along the stage seven route into Albi last night.  Yesterday was the first day I did not ride any portion of The Tour route, though I had the flavor of being on the route the last couple hours of the day when a steady procession of Tour vehicles (press and sponsors and officials) drove by making their transfer from the stage finish in Montpelier to the stage finish in Albi, many greatly exceeding the speed limit.

I know my legs are welll-conditioned, as they hardly noticed some of the milder hills the last couple of days that gave them a strain five weeks ago when I previewed the route with Andrew after two weeks at Cannes.  I can easily ride a couple of hours at a stretch without wanting a break.  More frustrating than the wind yesterday was not finding a strong enough Internet connection to upload my report for the day.  I fiddled in so many different ways I ended up deleting it and having to rewrite it at the end of the day when I should have been sleeping.  At least I had one of my favorite places to camp, in a field of rolled bales of hay.

No comments: