How Time Flies

Tour de France 2017 Recap

Izoard summit

Bless me followers, for I have sinned. Or more accurately: I have neglected you and I am sorry.

Well, I’m not sorry at all obviously, but I do feel a wee bit guilty that I have not even tried to find the time to write a post in months…

After all, this blog only exists for me to bore you to death with my ‘cycling adventures’, so I should have tried harder.

Anyway, let’s play catch up, shall we?

Tour de France 2017

You have probably forgotten, but my favourite Directeur Sportif and I were in Briançon last September for another Tour de France.

Back in 2014 I had planned that event so badly, that even she went nuts and swore she would push me off a cliff if I would ever construct something like that again.

So, this time we would stay in the same place for the duration of the tour. And because Briançon is probably even more a Walhalla of cycling than Barcelonnette, albeit obviously no match for Corvara or even Bormio, I had no problem constructing a challenging road book.

There’s no point in going over the stages I had in mind again, as it didn’t play out as planned anyway. As usual…

Although, I did manage to climb just about every mountain I had set my mind on, with the exception of trips I had categorised as ‘Other ideas’, but I failed to complete either of the Marmottes.

The GF Sestriere was a ‘DNF’ as I had a flat halfway between the the gruelling Finestre and Sestriere, at which point I discovered I had no spares with me.

If you’re wondering how stupid one can be, so was I…

I partially made up for that debacle by tackling Sestriere from all three sides during stage 8, so that’s something, I guess.

The Marmotte from Bourg-d’Oissans was a ‘DNS’ – once in Briançon, I quickly realised that the days in September were too short – and too cold, but that could be dealt with – to have a fair chance of completing that, given we would need to travel back and forth as well.

I did not have a lot to complain about the actual weather though. Yes, generally speaking the temperatures were low. Briançon itself being situated at 1,300+ meters, it was more pleasant in its twin city Susa at 500+ meters for example.

But at least I did not have to ride in a freezing rain very often.

It didn’t look that good when I started the Tour on Saturday though, as the trip up the Lautaret was a ride from hell – when we arrived at the summit, I was unable to change my cloths as I was numb everywhere.

And in the still open tavern they were surprised to see us, but I have never had a better omelette, coffee and pie.

Because of the continuing rain, I did not descend towards Briançon that day.

Together with the Iozard on the final day, those were the only descends I missed this Tour, although I regretted the one from the Galibier…

Anyway, here’s an overview of what I did manage to do.

StageMain ColDist.
PrologueLautaret (W)39.71,492/15225.710.73.25.8Strava
Stage 1aIzoard (N/2K S)44.91,462/1,462212.621.27.0Strava
Stage 1bMontgenèvre (W/E)42.41,114/1,11417.56.9186.4Strava
Stage 2Lautaret / Galibier (E)72.71,508/1,50828.614305.3Strava
Stage 3Echelle43.6638/62212.716.414.55.0Strava
Stage 4Finestre (Susa)73.12,027/1,7652616.130.97.8Strava
Stage 5Granon35.81,158/1,24314.15.316.38.2Strava
Stage 6Vars / Risoul76.42,297/2,24034.39336.7Strava
Stage 7Mont Cenis (Susa)67.12,072/1,48330.711.924.46.7Strava
Stage 8Sestriere (W/E/S-W)81.91,938/2,20332.38.740.76.0Strava
Stage 9aRte d'Izoard56.7885/1,00415.923.117.55.6Strava
Stage 9bCroix de Toulouse17.4660/6607.
Stage 10Izoard (S)44.11,687/20826.812.84.56.3Strava

The numbers come from RideWithGPS, which is generally more credible regarding elevation than Strava. The stats per ride are calculated by Stravistix, but I’m not sure on what exactly is defined as ‘flat’ – I guess it is below 2% or something like that.

finestreColle delle Finestre - rocks and dirtBy far the hardest climb was the Colle delle Finestre. While the first half of that is already more than enough to bring you to your knees, the second, unpaved, half is nearly impossible.

Keep in mind that I was on my ‘cross bike’, having tyres with a tractor profile, but the condition of the ‘road’ was such, that they didn’t help me much either.

I was bouncing left to right over rocks in various sizes, and the path looked like it was held together by noting but smaller rocks, sand and (dry) dirt.

Which is probably not that bad in itself, but add to that the grades running up to over 10% and you will enjoy it less by the meter, unless you’re even madder than me.

If you think cobblestones are a bad ride, you should definitely not try this…

On the bright side: this climb had the best temperatures I encountered during the tour and the summit was probably the least cold of all the summits I reached that were close to or over 2,000 meters.

During several climbs, like the Vars, Izoard and Galibier, the upper bits were so windy and cold, that the joy of the views did not really make up for that, as breathtaking as they are, especially on the latter two.

But I did admire the stamina of the photographers on those, that were still there to take pictures of the very few halfwits like myself that dared to try it in the first place.

Although I noticed that even they were gone when we descended back from the Izoard the final day.

During that stage (full length from Guillestre this time), I tried to stay as close to the back of the car as possible while going through the valley between Arvieux and Brunissard, as I would have been blown backwards otherwise…

Probably my ‘best’ day was during stage 6, when I went up the Vars and Risoul. Maybe because I had only ‘half’ a stage the day before, with the Granon.

However, that climb, despite its moderate official average from Briançon (7.2%) gets really tough after le Villard-Laté: 9.2% over the final 11 kilometers.

The Finestre averages 9.3% but is some 6 kilometers longer at that average and more than that is unpaved.

As we had ‘only’ 11 days for this Tour, I did not take a day off, but I did break two stages into a morning and an afternoon session and stages 3 and 9a were fairly easy 🙂

might stitch together another album on Google+ or Pinterest, but it’s quite a job to go through 1,500 pictures and upload a ‘best of’ to either service, so don’t hold your breath…

Next up: Rouvy Legend

More on the Tour de France 2017 here.

2 thoughts on “How Time Flies”

  1. Congratulations Cyclopaat Robert for your amazing adventure Tour de France 2017. It’s great reading your blog.

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