Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 11 Alpe D'Huez

Start of Alpe D'Huez climb

View on the way up

Col Du Glandon which featured on the TDF and we drove over to get to Alpe D'huez

driving over Col du Glandon to get to Alpe D'huez

Today , the 22 July 2015 , we travelled to Alpe D'Huez to ride the iconic climb in the TDF .Also known as the Dutch mountain partly for the number of wins cyclist from Holland have had and also the number of Dutch fans that now congregate there .This year it is the last stage before Paris and as there is only one way up or down it is a stage finish which should be epic if there are going to be any chases or changes in the placing's although it looks like Frome is safe .

It is an epic ride for the fact the Alpe D'Huez is the Glamorous mountain of the TDF .For everyone in the group it was a chance to ride it possibly once in a lifetime and particularly a few days before the Peloton goes through it. It was epic also for the fact we had to drive for 3 hours to get to the base of the climb as the tunnel that was a direct route from Briancon was closed making it a 3 hour drive via Italy and a variation for the TDF race this year. The drive also meant driving over Col Du Glandon which was part of the race route for stage 18 the 23 July 2015 and there were cars , people and RVs driving and dotting the route making it really hard to get over the mountain . Three hours later we arrived and set off in 37C heat up the 21 switchbacks .

The ride starts with a straight up steep ascent for the first 2-3 kms and then levels to an average 8% .I was slow up the climb and just pushing a 27 cassette was hard but I managed to remain consistent but slow.I started out first and got passed by the lead riders in our group at about switchback 10 or about 9km up .I was averaging 6-7 kph and there were parts of the climb that were over 10%.The average for the climb was 8% but there are parts that were over 12%.

It was hard going but the people already congregating on the climb egged us on and there was a multitude of cyclists from all over the world riding up. It was really hard for the last few kms with the gradient again rising and the tired legs pushing the cogs . I managed to get lost in the village but finally found the finish line with everyone waiting .Managed to get a drink and waited for the rest to finish before getting pictures at the finish line and then another drink and back down the switchbacks  for the long ride home. I took about 1.45 to ride the 15 plus km although the official course up is about 13.8 to 14.1km .I was happy with the result especially with the gears and steel bike I had.

The ride back was another 3 hours and we got back to Briancon at about 7.15 pm a memorable but long day.

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the climb and TDF:

Details of the climb[edit](Wikipedia Alpe D'Huez )

The climb to the summit starts at Le Bourg d'Oisans in the Romanche valley. The climb goes via the D211 from where the distance to the summit (at 1,860 m (6,102 ft)) is 13.8 km (8.6 mi), with an average gradient of 8.1%, with 21 hairpin bends and a maximum gradient of 13%.[7] In 2013, the finish of Stage 18 of the Tour de France, was at 1,850 m (6,070 ft) with the first passage being at a maximum altitude of 1,765 m (5,791 ft).[8]

Tour de France[edit]

L'Alpe d'Huez is climbed regularly in the Tour de France. It was first included in the race in 1952 and has been a stage finish regularly since 1976.[7]
The race was brought to the mountain by √Člie Wermelinger, the chief commissaire or referee.[9] He drove his Dyna-Panhard car between snow banks that lined the road in March 1952, invited by a consortium of businesses who had opened hotels at the summit.[10] Their leader was Georges Rajon, who ran the Hotel Christina.[11] The ski station there opened in 1936. Wermelinger reported to the organiser, Jacques Goddet, and the Tour signed a contract with the businessmen to include the Alpe.[10] It cost them the modern equivalent of €3,250.[11]
That first Alpe d'Huez stage was won by Fausto Coppi.[9] Coppi attacked 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from the summit to rid himself of the French rider Jean Robic.[9][12] He turned the Alpe into an instant legend because this was the year that motorcycle television crews first came to the Tour.[9] It was also the Tour's first mountain-top finish.[13] The veteran reporter, Jacques Augendre, said:
The Tourmalet, the Galibier and the Izoard were the mythical mountains of the race. These three cols were supplanted by the Alpe d'Huez. Why? Because it's the col of modernity. Coppi's victory in 1952 was the symbol of a golden age of cycling, that of champions [such as] Coppi, Bartali, Kubler, Koblet, Bobet. But only Coppi and Armstrong and Carlos Sastre have been able to take the maillot jaune on the Alpe and to keep it to Paris. That's not by chance. From the first edition, shown on live television, the Alpe d'Huez definitively transformed the way the Grande Boucle ran. No other stage has had such drama. With its 21 bends, its gradient and the number of spectators, it is a climb in the style of Hollywood.[12]