Pyrenees Day 3 - The Queen Stage
Col du Tourmalet & Col d'Aspin

Another surprise last night; one of fellow riders (John) is the brother-in-law of someone I work with from time to time. Anyway back to the cycling. Another 7am breakfast to be on the road by 8am for today's stage; short at only 60 miles but packing in an HC and a 1st Cat climb combining for over 2,500m of climbing. We were all expecting a false-flat warm-up before the climb of the Tourmalet at Luz Saint-Savour but the road up the gorge featured some proper climbing - look at the profile at around 15km. I had lost the others back in Argeles-Gazost and by the gorge was riding 3-up with a pair of French cyclists. I was so engrossed that I missed the van for the coffee stop at Luz so continued up the climb, after phoning Claude explaining what had happened.

I was suffering from Day 3 legs and was glad when Claude appeared for a feed and coffee stop about halfway up the climb. The caffeine and sugar kicked in and I felt much better on the second half of the climb and managed to hold on to my advantage to take the Cima Coppi prize for first up the highest point of the week.
 

Not sure a Galibier jersey is good form on the Tourmalet

We had our lunch at the Tourmalet and then enjoyed a fast and smooth descent down to Sainte-Marie-de-Campan - honestly back in Essex we can only dream of road surfaces this good. And to think that here it gets frozen in winter, baked in summer and subject to freeze-thaw in spring and autumn. I beat the van down (hope Jane doesn't read this bit), got ride of arm-warmers and gilet and then started the climb up the Aspin. This is only 12km and it only really the last 5km that are hard. An enjoyable climb with some views back towards the Tourmalet and sections in the forest with shade from the early afternoon heat.
 
Sainte-Marie-de-Campan and the most famous forge in Tour de France history

Col d'Aspin - not sure what that bloke in top left is doing


A few spots of rain appeared at the Aspin so I donned a jacket and took on the descent in case it started raining properly (which it didn't). Another good descent (overtaking a couple of camper vans) on a road surface that was not as good as the Tourmalet but still better than we are used to back home. There was no rain the valley, so jacket was off leaving me to enjoy the false-flat to Saint Lary-Soulan in the 30 heat.


Profile of the day, courtesy of GPS Vizualiser .com
Back to Day 2
On to Day 4
Map

 


Pyrenees