Stage 20 and the Tour reached the penultimate stage. At 110.5 km the course was relatively short but this would be no easy day in the saddle with two big horse category climbs up the Col de la Croix de Fer and the legendary Alpe d’Huez.
Gabs had been out foraging all morning and came across plenty of wild alpine blueberries. Quicker than you can say ‘blueberry pie’, Gabs had whipped up a delicious blueberry mousse. No butter in the recipe and the buerremetric counter sits on 250g. I’m wondering if Gabs has left the butter for final charge to the line in Paris?
The peloton was well and truly underway when we caught up with Phil and Paul. To Paul this was ‘just a Saturday afternoon bike ride’. Yeah, after three weeks of hard racing and up a freaking mountain.
By the way, I finally got the definitive translation on that NAB ad that’s been running throughout the Tour on SBS. You know the one, it looks like Prince William and his sister (if he had one) are sitting in a lovely restaurant with a magnificent view. The woman asks, "It’s a great business you have here, what’s your secret?" To which the owner replies, “Well, I'm being paid a shitload of money by NAB to use my restaurant in this ad". Fair answer.
Back to the race and the riders were on the first big climb the Col de la Croix de Fer, although Phil got a little ahead of himself and called it the Alpe d’Huez. Great, I can see the Ps are getting their cols mixed up already. All we needed to wait for was a Col de Col Porter.
Froometana was tapping out a rhythm with Richie Porte and Wout Poels, who was checking his lucky numbers. Three kilometres from the summit of whatever mountain they were on ‘Quinfroome’ suddenly sprouted wings and took off with fellow Moviestar Alejandro Valverde.
Over the summit Froome and Quintana were back together but it was clear Quintana was seriously going to try and rip the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Froome. But with the help of trusty lieutenant ‘Richie Froome’ (yes, Phil actually said that, again) Quintana was going to have a hard task ahead of him.
Hehe, Richie Froome. A classic but I still reckon ‘Dean Martin’ from The Jensie is the best name mix up of the Tour.
Finally it was time for Tomo to usher in viewers from Western Australia. He mentioned that the tour was a three week endurance test. Yes, it sure is an endurance test for Aussie Tour fans Tomo, but as you know, we love every moment of it.
Troll DJ chimed in with the Clash’s ‘Should I stay or should I go?’ Should we go? Heck no, don't go now, the best is yet to come on the Alpe d'Huez!
Orange flares on Dutch Corner
On the approach to the Alpe d’Huez the riders passed an impressively large body of water. Large bodies of water are on my drinking game list, don’t ask me why. That impressively large body of water was held back by an equally impressive dam and did I spot a fish ladder at the side of that wall?
Meanwhile breakies Alexandre Geniez, Thibaut Pinot, Winner Anacona, Ryder Hesjedal, Pierre Rolland, Ruben Plaza and José Serpa reached the start of the mythical Alpe d’Huez. The riders were ‘tapping on their pedals’. They have an ever expanding repertoire but on a climb like this you don’t want to be caught square dancing on the pedals.
The climb to the top of the Alpe dHuez is horrendous, but is it the 13.8 km at 8.1 per cent average gradient that makes it so awful?
Is it the steep ramps on the 21 hairpin bends that the riders dread?
It’s the rabid fans at ‘Dutch Corner’ that make this climb such an ordeal.
The breakies were the first to run the gauntlet of roadside random central station with orange flares going off and the corridor of noise was going insane. To top it off a streaker ran up the road. Oh my God, this climb IS horrendous.
Phil spotted 'Thibaut Pierre' (now we’ve heard everything) launch a solo attack at 6 km to go.
Further back Quintana was on the attack and Froome found himself in trouble– “it’s a white dress with gold bands. It’s a white dress with gold bands”. Hurls kitchen sink, “Take that you pillock!”
Meanwhile Thibaut Pierre soloed up the road first across the line at Alpe d’Huez. After a horrendous first week winning here for the Frenchman at Alpe d’Huez was the icing on the cake.
Not long after Chris Porte crossed the line and Richie Froome came in seventh with a big smile. We we can all agree he put in a great ride to be able to survive the ordeal of Dutch Corner.
It was a great ride from Quintana to finish second and put a sizable dent in the yellow jersey lead but bloody well done Chris Froome who had the measure of the GC contenders for the whole Tour.
As Froome accepted yet another yellow jersey on the podium there was a little shake of the head. Not sure if that was in relief or directed at the booers. Whether you love him or hate him, Chris Froome has copped a lot of flack at this Tour and it's undeserved in my opinion.
Who would have imagined three weeks ago we’d be here today and now it's just the parade and the crit race in the heart of Paris to go.
My, how the time flies when you’re having fun.