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Tour de France 2009 map

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Photographs from my holiday in France, July 2009

Summer is here and that means it's time for the Tour de France again. I'd arranged to meet up with a bunch of friends, mostly from Australia, for 2 weeks of cycling in the Pyrenèes and the Alps, and hopefully we'd get to watch the race live in a few places along the way. The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable at any time of year but we were treated to great weather for almost all of the trip which showed off the stunning scenery at its best. I managed to do almost 1750 km of cycling during the 2 weeks and my body was happy to get a break after returning home!

Friday 10 July
Having decided to take the train this year rather than fly, as I usually do, there was not the usual 5am wake-up to catch a bus/train/whatever to get to the airport at some ridiculous time to catch an early flight. The Eurostar was due to leave London St Pancras just after 7pm - far more civilised.

Saturday 11 July
After some logistical problems the night before when the ticket machine at Gare Austerlitz refused to accept my credit card (mental note: don't select "collect tickets from the station" when booking online!) the train arrived at Lourdes exactly on time at 07:46am. My body clock must have still been on UK time and I hurriedly stuffed everything into my bag and ran for the door but just didn't quite make it to the doors in time before they locked and the train pulled away, bound for the next station which was Tarbes. At Tarbes I met 3 women who had made the same mistake and we shared a taxi back to Lourdes and from there I took another taxi down to Argeles Gazost. It was not the best start to the holiday and I'm normally far better organised but I guess things do go wrong sometimes and the main thing is that I made it to my destination only about an hour late and at an extra cost of about 35 Euros in tax fares.

After quickly dumping my bags at the hotel I assembled the bike and four of us went for a ride up to the Luz Ardiden ski station just up the valley.


Near the summit of Luz Ardiden
Luz Ardiden
Marmot
Marmot
Col du Soulor
Col du Soulor
Col du Soulor summit
Col du Soulor
View from Hotel
View from Hotel
Muffler sculpture
Muffler sculpture
Argeles Gazost
Argeles Gazost
Argeles Gazost
Argeles Gazost

Sunday 12 July

Another beautiful sunny and warm day. The plan today was to watch the Tour de France stage on the Col du Tourmalet. We got on the road soon after 08:30 and after topping up water bottles at Saint Marie de Campan, started up the 18km climb to the top of the Col du Tourmalet. As expected it was very crowded with people riding and walking up as well as people, cars, and camper vans parked on the road side.

After the Tour caravanne came through throwing out all the goodies from the sponsors, a couple of the red official cars pulled up at the summit and out stepped Bernard Hinault, Bernard Thévenet, and the current Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme. A small monument to former Tour de France director Jacques Goddet has recently (since I was last here in 2006) been placed at the summit and Hinault, Prudhomme, and Thévenet were there to lay flowers at the monument. Hinault ignored the crowds, some of whom were trying to get his attention, but by contrast Christian Prudhomme seemed very friendly and approachable, and spoke with a few of the spectators before being driven away.

When the race arrived about half an hour later Filippo Pozzato got over the summit first closely followed by Perrick Fedrigo. A few minutes later the chase group arrived which were the riders that Pozzato and Fedrigo had left behind about 10km earlier. The main bunch containing Armstrong, Contador, Evans, the Schlek brothers, etc were about 5 minutes further back. The last rider over the top was around 45 minutes behind the Pozzato and Fedrigo.

After the Fin du Course went through we rode most of the way down the other side to Barèges and watched the last 20 km of the race on television at a café. The stage was won by Fedrigo who out-sprinted Pozzato by about half a bike length. The main bunch were about 30 seconds behind.


Col du Tourmalet summit
Col du Tourmalet
Tour de France caravanne
PMU caravanne
Col du Tourmalet summit
Col du Tourmalet
Col du Tourmalet summit
Col du Tourmalet

Monday 13 July

Another beautiful hot and sunny day. Today was a rest day for the Tour de France so we ended up doing a marathon 203km ride. The route was Argeles Gazost - Lourdes - Lestelle Bétharram - Ferierres - Col du Soulor - Col d'Aubisque - Col de Marie Blanque - Escot - St Christaux - Louvie Juzon - Lestelle Bétharram - Lourdes - Argeles Gazost.

On the road to the Col du Soulor
Calibet
Col du Soulor
Col du Soulor
Col d'Aubisque
Col d'Aubisque
Riding through Saint Pé de Bigorre
Saint Pé de Bigorre

Images from my holiday in France, July 2009

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This page first created by Craig Porter: 30/07/2009.