Tour de France 2004 Stage 17 - Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand

Today was the dreaded day of the tour climbing two Hors (beyond) category climbs. Tammy took a sick day today and stayed in the hotel to accelerate her recovery (I'm glad to say I think it helped a lot). I took the shuttle to the stage. The plan was to ride about 40k to the base of the Madelaine and then climb up a ways to watch the tour. We ran short on time so we just ended up going to the base of the mountain and climbing. The Madelain is a beast. It's a 19.8 km climb with an average gradient of 7.8%. Technically it doesn't pitch up the way Alpe d'Huez does but it's nearly twice the length. A fit recreational rider will take 2 hours to climb the Madelaine. Two hours. That's two hours of going up, constantly. The roads in Alpes are never flat. They just go up at a constant rate. There is no recovery flats, just up. You look up the road panting and sweating and it's just more up. Forever.

I didn't finish the climb. I ran low on water after an hour of climbing. In that hour I made it about 7 km up the climb and 600 vertical meters. The entire climb is around 2000 meters so I did about 1/3rd of the climb. That was enough. I am after all, on vacation.

It was another great day for the tour and I got to watch "le train bleu" on the front. Floyd Landis did a piece of work for Lance today that will redefine him as a domestique. It was amazing to watch.

We watched the stage on the tour bus as we drove home. There was a huge roar in the bus when Lance sprinted in the last 100 meters to take the stage from Kloeden. He seems to be incredibly on form this year.