Saturday, July 18, 2009


Stage 14 of the 2009 Tour de France begins in Colmar, how nice that the riders had an opportunity to enjoy such a beautiful town last night. The Stage runs through the beautiful countryside ending 123.7 miles later in Besancon, an historical city now known for its art and history. It was the birthplace of Victor Hugo who wrote Les Miserable.

Early rain again kept today’s race across the plains on a more predictable course. There was an early break away of 12 riders with a broad representation from many different teams today. The rain stopped as Astana kept the pace of the Peloton strong to keep the break lead down. The rain was light enough for the most of the race that the race caps stayed off their backs. During the last few miles the Russian rider Serguei Ivanov, six times Russian Champion broke from the group and finished for his second Stage Win in his seventh Tour de France.

The story of the day was George Hincapie, part of the break away closed the time gap for the Yellow Jersey for this stage throughout the day missing his opportunity by just five seconds!

The leaders are:

#1: Rinaldo Nocentini 58:13:52

#2: George hincapie +.05

#3: Alberto Contado +.06

#4: Lance Armstrong +.08

#5: Christophe Le Mevel +.43

The Jerseys today:

Top Team Overall: Ag2r La Mondiale

Yellow Jersey: Rinaldo Nocentini

Green Jersey: Thor Hushovd

Polk-a-dot Jersey: Franco Pellizotti

White Jersey: Tony Martin

And so we pick up our story in 2004 during our first full day in Grenoble at the base of the Alpe d’Huez; the site of many of the more famous mountain stages in the history of the Tour de France…….

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004 Grenoble

At breakfast this morning we met a very nice lady from Seattle, Washington; probably about fifty years of age. She travels by herself for about a month every summer in Europe; mostly France, sometimes driving and sometimes by train. Got to talking about the Tour and she is also following the race. She will go from here to Beaune. We noticed her yellow bracelet that only Nike is selling here in Europe to support the Armstrong Cancer Fundraiser. We’ve been trying to purchase them for a week and haven’t been able to. They’re only a dollar. Everyone from all the riders to thousands of the spectators have them. They’re yellow rubber and have the word “LIVESTONG” on them. Nike has pledge to match the money raised (up to one million dollars) if they sell one million during the Tour. You can order them in the States online from the Armstrong Foundation; not sure of the exact website; but a little searching should find it for you if you’re interested. But, she had two extra ones that she gave Jim and me after she found out that we'd been trying to buy one without luck...and we still don't know her name! People are so nice when you travel.

After breakfast we headed for the Alpe d’Huez by car. Since Jim is not planning to find a place to park and sleep all night in the car; I went with him. We drove thirty eight miles each way and it took us a little over three hours. We came to a dead standstill in traffic about three miles from the top. We’d been inching along for at least a mile before that along very steep switchbacks. No places to park even if we wanted to. I finally believe their prediction that there will be a million people on the mountain tomorrow for the race. After turning around we timed the traffic jam….we passed cars headed up the mountain that were bumper to bumper, inching along for six miles from where we’d turned around. The smell of clutches and brakes was everywhere. We asked one German camper on the corner of a switchback when they’d arrived to secure their spot (and they were only about 2 miles up)…they’d been camped there since last Thursday. Oh…we also had rain for about two thirds of our trip up the mountain. Many of the bikers had full packs on their bikes for camping overnight on the mountain. Everything had to be soaking wet by the time they arrived.

The Road heading in that direction will be closed at Vizille (about 25 miles before the race starts in le Boure-d’Oisans) after midnight tonight and will be closed for two days. The race on Thursday also starts from the same town and goes over another mountain heading north in the direction of Geneve.

Arrived back at the hotel and spent the afternoon packing boxes to mail tomorrow and watching Stage Fifteen of the Tour de France. It will end today in the town of Villard that we visited yesterday. Weather is very humid and warm. But the mountains in this area are spectacular. Everywhere you look there is a vista of mountain ranges to enjoy.

The race is now over for today. We have thunder outside, mountain climbers are beginning to practice climbing on the shear cliffs next to our hotel. Lance Armstrong won the Stage and the Yellow Jersey today. Little Thomas Voeckler, the brand new rider; a Frenchman riding for a French Team (his first year), only 23 years old, has said goodbye to the yellow jersey. He has won it nearly every stage since the beginning of the Tour. He’s truly the “darling” of the tour. He’s like Thomas The Train….I think I can, I think I can…… I’m sure he’ll get a top contract and probably be a team leader next year after the results this year. I’ve challenged Jim that if Thomas gets to number seven win in years to come; we’ll come back to see him win! Many people feel that he could possibly be the next Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France!

1 comment:

Mary said...

Hi Martha
Enjoyed your journals so much as I always do..its so great how fast you get the up to date results on your website. I am on Emilys computer as having trouble signing on to their wireless. Kyle will be here tomorrow and he should be able to help me. Went to Art fair this am then watched the last 2 hrs of the race.