Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Stage 17 of the 2009 Tour de France begins in the ski resort of Bourg-Saint-Maurice and continues through the Swiss Alps for 105 miles including five mountain climbs! The Stage finishes in the town of Le Grand-Bornand, a ski resort located at the foot of the Aravis Mountain range of the Alps.

A wicked day of difficult mountains saw Thor Hushovd taking off early to gain some bonus points to secure his Green Jersey. He held on to the sole lead right up to the last 39 km before being overtaken by the group who started the counterattack. A nice surprise when they announced that the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is riding in a team car today.

Lance played the “perfect teammate” today helping to control Bradley Wiggins who will take extra points tomorrow during the time trials while Kloden and Contador battled with the brothers, Andy & Frank Schleck, for the lead.

Contador broke but only managed to lose his teammate. Suddenly just before the summit, Lance Armstrong repeated his sole journey across the break to Kloden. At the end of the day, Andy pulled back and gave the Stage Win to brother Frank; but the Yellow Jersey stayed with Contador!

The leaders are:

#1: Alberto Contador

#2: Andy Schleck +2.26

#3: Frank Schleck +3.25

#4: Lance Armstrong +3.55

#5: Andreas Kloden +4.44

Our Jerseys were awarded today to:

Top Team Overall: Astana

Maillot Jaune: Alberto Contador

Maillot Vert: Thor Hushovd

Maillot a Pois Rouges: Franco Pellizotti

Maillot Blanc: Andy Schleck

Our 2004 Journal continues as we spend a day in the mountains; parked along a desolate (on normal days) mountain road for five hours to watch the riders’ whiz though on a mountain stage. ….. the 2009 tour will be in this area tomorrow for Individual Time Trial on Stage # 18

Thursday, July 22nd: 2004 Bluffy

Left about 8:30 am and hit rush hour traffic for a while but managed to arrive in Bluffy before 11:00 am. Bluffy is a very tiny village at the top of a small mountain just outside of Annecy a large city on a large lake located south of Geneva. This was going to be a good (but not too high) hill climb after they’d already completed two major hill climbs earlier in the morning. We chose this climb because we were able to drive to the area, get a parking spot right on the course for viewing and then get back on the road quickly to drive to our hotel in Beaune; a three hour drive!

We picked a spot to park the car that was headed downhill but still an easy walk to the top for viewing. We were in the shade on a curve. Put the American Flag up on the car by using the windows to secure the corners. Then Jim walked back and forth to his favored viewing spot at the top of the hill while I stayed with the car and read a book. About 3 pm the Caravan arrived. Jim was at the car for this and he stood across the road and gathered more of the throwaway items that I did. We got bags, key chains, food, etc., etc; lots of fun. They are going at least thirty to forty miles per hour while they are tossing these things at you; but that definitely add to the fun of the event! After the caravan had passed, Jim went back up the hill to watch the race with his new buddies.

Jim has been up there most of the afternoon; good company and also there was a small television where he was able to watch the race. There was an Italian gentleman with a camper who had a generator and a satellite dish hooked on a fence for a small television set that he put where others could stand around and see it. He also had refrigerated water bottles for the Italian riders that he gave them as they passed. He goes to all the bicycle races and the Italian team knows he will be there on the course with the water bottles. Also, a Frenchman who lives in Annecy near the lake had worked in the USA in Illinois for six to eight months so Jim had lots of fun talking with him in English.

The initial group of three riders whizzed by followed very closely by Lance and a small break away chase group at 4:10 pm. The riders continued to come by every few minutes. We had to wait until the final rider had passed before we could use the road. The last rider was followed by a truck called “Lanterne Rouge” with a flashing sign that said “Race Ferme” meaning that the last rider had passed. It was 4:45 pm; we pulled out right behind the truck and managed to be the first car off the mountain. The second car was right behind us; a couple from Pennsylvania that we’d talked with during the hours of waiting. The wife had given me a novel that she’d just finished; always nice to have another book to read. We headed south back to Chambery, then west to Lyon and back to the north to Beaune. Called the hotel to tell them we were going to arrive late…the clerk did not speak any English. I’m on the cell phone with the French dictionary trying to get her to understand. Finally found the work for late (tard) and she seemed to understand that. Always a challenge, but I certainly can understand and speak a lot more French than I could in 1992.

We found our hotel in Beaune easily since it was the one that we’d stayed in on our 2002 trip. Old, but quaint and walking distance to the old part of town; also has TV and Internet connections. They’ve done extensive renovations since we were two years ago. No central air, but the walls are over two feet thick and our room is very comfortable temperature wise. What more could you want? How about a thunder and lightening storm while we enjoy our evening shot of Pastis? It’s been 90 to 95 degrees this afternoon…we have a huge storm going on right now outside. It’s a storm like they get in the Midwest and south during the summer! This is a great town and we will enjoy it tomorrow as we stay two nights. Known as the hills of gold (Cote d’Oro) because of the value of the wines that they grow in this region called Burgundy. This is our third trip to this area. We’ve done just about everything so will relax tomorrow and absorb the ambiance. Saturday we will watch a time trial and then head into Paris to watch the finals on Sunday. Should be a mad house!

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