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July 17 2007 – Watch Tour de France Stage


Ride Col du Telegraphe and Col de Galibier

Today we woke up early to get on the road for the Galibier. When we were discussing the ride last night, Paul noticed that he and I would be challenged to make it to the summit in time to get back to the Col de Telegrapghe where we had decided that we wanted to watch today’s Tour de France stage. As a result, we decided to leave a bit earlier than normal.

We had  breakfast at the Bolongerie (Bakery) and got some Espresso then headed off. This is the first time in any of our trips that we’ve made together that we didn’t have to drive to see a Tour stage. We left directly from our hotel and rode along the D1006 road with many other cyclists until we reached Michel de Maurienne where the climb started. We rode through the town, took a right across the river and started the climb up the Col du Telegraphe. Immediately, we were happy that we were not in Italy as the climb was not hard, just long over the day. Tom headed off and we agreed to meet 5K from the summit of the Telegraphe to watch the race. This was key for an easy exit as there are millions of people on these mountains. 

Eventually, Paul and I reached the summit of the Telegraphe which was quite crowded.

Paul and I continued to about 10K short of the Galibier summit before we reached our turn around time. In the mean time, Tom had met up with an Italian guy who he raced from the Telegraphe all the way to the summit of the Galibier.  His account is much better than mine will be, but they raced back and forth trying to drop each other until the final switchbacks where Tom dropped the Italian. This all despite the fact that Tom still had three full bottles of water and a 10 lb fanny pack on.  That’s two for two on the Galibier … last trip, Tom dropped a Frenchman on the short side of the Galibier.  For those who don’t know, the climb to the Galibier is about 34Km long (~20 miles) and climbs to over 2600 meters or around 8000 ft. That’s our Tom.

Here are some other shots Tom took while he was on the Galibier.

While near the top Tom ran into Levi Leipheimer’s family. We had met them back in 2005 on Courchevel and on Pla D’Adet during the 2005 Tour de France.  They are great people and it’s nice that they are able to support Levi every year.

Meanwhile, Paul and I climbed back to the Telegraphe from Valloire. Since we had passed through, they had put up the king of the mountains banner on the Telegraphe.

We descended to the 5 Km mark and found a great spot to watch the race.  While we waited, we watched everyone slogging up the hill. One interesting ride was this little kid who was just flying up the mountain.

Paul and I had just about given up hopes that Tom would find us when he showed up with his stories about the trip to the Galibier and how crowded it was..  

Next came the caravan which is a big parade that comes before the race, just like Mardi Gras. We had perfect spaces since no one was around, so we all came away with tons and tons of stuff that was thrown by the sponsors. Paul even ate the salami that they gave out. I threw mine to Paul and he only got one of them. The second stayed in the road and was run over by the remainder of the caravan. It left a giant grease spot on the road and we were concerned it might wreck one of the cyclists. Later he paid for it by needing to make an emergency trip to the bathroom.

Finally, the race came by. We had thought we might be too far down the mountain, and it turns out that we were. The first few cyclists came by and then the peloton, then a few stragglers and finally the sprinters group. All this happened in very short order.

We saw the Discovery team car with Johann (the Team Director) driving.

After the race, we immediately got ready and descended. Things went very smoothly, no riders hit by cars on the descent like last trip! The ride back along D1006 was windy, but very fast. We even made it back to the hotel and had showers before the race finished. All in all, a successful day.

Also, Tom met another of the tour staples … Didi … the “Stinky" Devil!
We continued on and descended into Valloire which is where the main climb to the Galibier starts.