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Cent Cols Challenge: Stage 9
Vassieux-en-Vacors to Montmelian
Starting on the plateau town of Vassieux at 1250m meant it was pretty chilly at daybreak, and we left the quiet village in drifting morning fog. We climbed up out of the mist into clear skies and from here on in it was a fantastic summer's day.
The final push. The last tough day, and something we're all determined to nail, so morale is high.
Straight into the climbing, but once the sun breaks through we're rewarded with a dramatic loop through the Gorge de Combe Laval, scenery like I've never seen before.
A diversion for lunch took us through walnut groves, heavy with ripe fruit, to a friendly campsite hostess. The reason for the diversion as she proudly shows us is a certain Texan used to lunch their whilst training on La Machine… we later heard she replaced the pictures with ones of Ira Ryan.
A long, long drag after lunch along big roads, saw me fighting to stay on the back of Brett and Nick's express train.
Finally reaching the hotel at Montelian, I was absolutely spent, almost not caring that we had hit our target of 100 Cols. A beautiful evening though.
The tunnel down the Machine, barely wide enough for a big vehicle, squirming its way through solid rock and darkness. We needed a car with headlights to guide us through.
The rock-cut road in the Combe Laval, stunning. A feat of engineering yet almost prehistoric at the same time. Definitely one to revisit.
Tomorrow, the final day, I don't know if I'm happy or sad. Well, I'm a little annoyed to be honest; I thought we'd be able to catch up on some sleep, but it's another half-six start… and the route looks a lot tougher than I'd anticipated. Hey-ho.
Above the clouds, heading toward the intriguingly named Col Machine.
The cracks are beginning to show (on Nick's wheels)!
- RT @IonaNiDhalaigh: Yahhh mountain jersey in the bag!!! Nice one @mike_cuming!!! @raphacondor http://t.co/GrGqSL0Kgl
- RT @CondorWarehouse: Nice to see the @raphacondor JLT team bike on display @campagnolosrl HQ with so many top pro teams http://t.co/5CgE0tY…
- RT @anpostras: GC after Stage 4: Bialoblocki,, McConvey, Guldhammer, Handley, Pelletier-Roy, Hunal, Simon Yates, Fodor, Roger Aiken, Archbo…
- Spare a thought for @Porterelliott who punctured out of the yellow jersey group, when will he get some luck!
- Took the @anpostras on today. Didn't quite pull it off. @RichHandley90 4th on GC and @mike_cuming in the KoM jersey.
- Tour series update from Stoke up on the site http://t.co/aVdcnGnkOX
- RT @elstopbanana: Here's Kristian House @raphacondor at last night's @TourSeries picture by Sue Howlett Great racing! @SoTCityCouncil http:…
- RT @sticky_bottle: Meant to say, to be eligible for the @raphacondor team car compeition you have to be a stickybottle twitter follower!
- RT @sticky_bottle: OK folks; nice morning for it. To win a day in the Rapha Condor JLT team car on the Rás last stage, Sunday, just retweet…
- Third team overall for the Men in Black at Stoke last night in the @TourSeries