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Cent Cols Challenge: Stage 10 (Fin)
Montmelian to Annecy
Ave speed - 14.2mph (including the Lake Annecy champagne-addled cycle-path)
A cold start to the day, but we could tell it was going to be another perfect afternoon. The temperature soared in the morning and I think we were all glad to be finished by mid-afternoon. A sun-dappled descent into Annecy through an idyllic national forest.
Back into the stunning 'Swiss-style' Alps, lush alpine meadows, contented cows and the soothing melody of the cow bells.
The route took us through a series of difficult and demanding climbs, before the 17km Cret de Chatillon rewarded us with a stunning mountain-top finish.
We were stopped just before embarking on a serious climb in the late morning to be told the road to the Col was closed and we'd have to retrace our steps to the point of Phil's shorter route. With time in hand we were soon basking in the sun, enjoying great coffee and even better flan from a patisserie straight out of Amelie… bliss.
Lunch at the top of the Cret de Chatillon next to panoramic views in alpine sunshine, with Mont Blanc in the distance.
Finding out I came 3rd… remarkable, and only thanks to the team's hard work.
Waking up in the morning, I was looking forward to a catching up on some sleep (Ira's always deep under as I tap away at my ride journal). However, it became clear at the evening briefing this was to be a morning like the rest: Waking in darkness, straight into damp lycra, and a far from leisurely breakfast…
Despite the beautiful route, I found today a real grind. Legs were blown out by stages 8 and 9 and I had nothing left. I hung on to Ira's wheel on the climbs, sometimes tapping along at 11+mph for a considerable distance on a gradient, but I couldn't match his relentless drive.
What of tomorrow? Well, who knows, a return to normality?
Lake Annecy, rather inviting after 10 days of riding.
Raeburn, Ira Ryan, Arthur, Amlot and honorary Rapha rider, Hedges.
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