What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tour de PEZ: Haute & Col

PEZ Roadside Stage 8 – Six mountain passes… warm French weather… is there anywhere else you’d rather be than atop one of those passes watching le Tour? PEZ went mountain-side for today’s roadside report.

Oooooh, what a day!

It all began in the Haute-Savoie region of France, at Le Grand-Bornand. In the first few kilometers of today’s stage, there’s a Cat 4 climb… then a Cat 3…

…then as they rolled through the town of Faverges, it got a bit tougher… the 9km Cat 2 climb up to the Col de Tamie.

It’s not an easy climb, but it’s not a knee-breaker either. The toughest pitch is right out of town, then it flattens and steadily climbs up to the summit. Nice hat, sir.

Merde! I wish I’d ridden my bike up here. This is the kind of climb even us mortals can enjoy.

With views like this, ya almost expect to see Julie Andrews twirling along in a field, singing, “The hills are alive….”

OK, maybe not. But you get the idea. It’s a pretty spectacular sight.

The KOM banner at the top perfectly frames the Alps in the distance.

These Belgian fans had the right idea… if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill, why not play a little Scrabble? Hmmm… lemme see if I can help ‘em out…

OK, a three letter word for ‘what’s cool in pro cycling’… mega-points on this one, oui?

At the top, there’s food, drink and a whole slew of Americans. Lynne lives in Lake Oswego, just outside Portland, Oregon. She rode up to the top of the Tamie today…a few days ago, she did Ventoux…before that, Alpe d’Huez. Tres bien, Lynne!

The Americans were outnumbered by the Belgians at today’s roadside stop. This guy lives near Gent, and with hours and hours of sittin’ in the sun waiting for the peleton, the green umbrella is a pretty good idea.

All the team cars passed through hours before the first rider. If you were in the right place at the right time, and quick enough, or maybe just a cute kid, there was a good chance to score some team swag, like this Bouygues Telecom shirt. I think her brother is a bit envious though…

If you’re lucky, you could also score some swag from one of the dozens and dozens of sponsor vehicles in the caravan…but…

…if you’re not lucky, all you get is a big-time spray from the Aquarel guy with the water cannon. But maybe on a hot day like this, it’s a bit of a blessing.

Not everything is here is free… the official Tour souvenir vans are everywhere… even here at the top of the climb. If there are people gathered to watch the race, there’s stuff to be bought and sold…

… and memories to be made. How many Tours has this couple seen over the years?.

In a flash, and just a few minutes late (for a change), the first riders are on us. Two guys fight for the KOM points, and AG2R is pullin’ the main train behind ‘em.

The crowd goes bonkers as all the colors of the peleton come into view. These boys don’t look too wasted yet… but this is just a Cat 2 hill. There are three Cat 1 climbs still ahead.

There’s a brief moment for the guys to catch their breath and try to woof down a little food at the top.

As soon as it starts, it’s over…the last riders roll through the Col de Tamie, headed for today’s finish in Tignes.

What goes up has to go down, too. Once the course is cleared, the conga-line of cars, truck, bikes, motorcycles and people start to snake their way back down the hill. The traffic is terrible, but the view down the hill is pretty terrific.

You never know who you’ll run into at the top of a climb at le Tour. Lisa and Peter Easton of Velo Classic Tours were just cruisin’ through this part of France, so they stopped to watch the riders roll by, and join the post-pack traffic.

It’s a good time for a little civilized lunch… some salad, a little bread, maybe a beer or two, and then kill enough time to let the crowd clear.

That’s the PEZ-Eye view from the top of the Tamie. We’re sad to say that there’s no handstand photo today to close out our story, as Dr. Kristin’s Tour has come to an end.

Tomorrow is a rest day for the riders, but the PEZ crew will be on the road. The goal is to ride the dreaded Galibier climb, so we can show you what it’s like before the big-boys hammer up that hill on Tuesday.

Vive le Tour!

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