Double d’Huez

Twice up Alpe d’Huez, it always seemed like a pipe dream without any pass-able descent available, but with a little patching up to the Col de Sarenne, it looks like it worked!

Atmosphere

I’ve spent a bit of time on l’Alpe when the Tour’s been about, it a magical place, it’s got something special, everybody that goes there to watch a bike race becomes part of a huge street party that goes on for days (& nights). As with all mountains the race goes past, if you’re looking through your camera, it’s gone forever, shouting & screaming is usually the best bet (not too close now Borat). But wouldn’t it be nice to take a photo & have time to scream & shout, it happened this year, with two passes of the bunch within a short space of time. The closest we’ve got to multiple passes would be the TT on 2004, we got to see plenty of riders, but it lacks the feeling of infectious madness, with riders fighting mano-a-mano millimetres from your PMU hand.

The Descent

I’ve also descended the Col de Sarenne, it was bumpy, covered in gravel, had some speed bumps, it didn’t help that I was on a borrowed bike, I remember thinking that there was no way they could do anything but a mountain top finish at Alpe d’Huez, this crazy road was nothing like the standard required. I drove it in a car too, even that was a little scary, with steep drop offs & little space to pass is another vehicle was coming the other way. With the traffic jam of bikes riding up Alpe d’Huez before & after the road is shut, the Col de Sarenne was virtually void of bikes.

I was waiting with eagerness to see what kind of state it was in, what they had done with it to bring it up to standard?

2013

I only got to see the ITV4 highlights, but they put a reporter on the descent, it kind of looked the same, but the rutted & gravelled corners had been resurfaced, bumps removed & a little resurfacing on the worst bits. It was ride-able, but the pro’s looked less than adventurous, it didn’t turn into the chaos that it was built up to provide, it still needs some work.

The Future

The double climb provided huge drama, a crack in the yellow jersey, the sunken eyes of a past champion & a changing of the guard. It was a historic day, the rain held off & it resulted in a French winner, it really couldn’t have gone any better for the organisers.

Without doubt we are going to see a similar stage again, there’s going to be significant investment in that dodgy road, it’s a trick not to miss for the resort. They pay to host the tour, but with the fee comes some additional benefits, cementing the ski resort as a year round economy, winter for skiing, summer for biking. An additional good quality access road, is another huge benefit, this year was a tester & we can expect some investment & a decent road surface next time we visit.For ASO, they give the public what they want, they get the crowds out to sample their publicity caravan. Who wouldn’t want to show off their products to a guaranteed live audience of hundreds of thousands, who will then wear anything you give them to a worldwide audience of billions.

The Tour really is a one-off, there’s nothing quite like it, and there’s nothing quite like the Tour on Alpe d’Huez.

Maillot à pois rouges – the prologue

Le Tour starts in Corsica on Saturday, I’m a bit scunnered with the whole yellow jersey competition already, so I’m hoping to move away from the huge General Classification shenanigans a little during le Tour. I’m going to focus my attentions on the polka dot jersey, or maillot à pois rouges.

I’ve mentioned the Colombians in previous blogs, I’m really hoping that they will re-ignite this competition in France, with Quintana making a race of it. I’m also fully expecting some Spaniards to drift away from the GC competition in week two & refocus on the spotty jersey. Rodriguez is particularly suited to this, capable of sprinting from the lead group at the top of the major & small climbs, it’s a bit of a speciality for J-Rod. Expect have the traditional French holder of the jersey in the first week, with any points on offer being fiercely contested until we hit the first big mountains, if any of the smaller French wild card teams hold that for a few days, then relinquish it in painfull circumstances it could secure them all jobs for the next year, good luck to them with that.

The ‘Mountains’ on each stage

I’ve included in brackets, the climb distance, the average gradient, the peak altitude & the point the climb is tackled in each stage.

Stage 1: Whoever wins this  one cat 4  climb gets to wear a jersey for a day, fast non climber perhaps?

  • Cat 4 : Côte de Sotta (1.1km@5.9%, 147m, 45.5 of 213km)

Stage 2: Lots of 3rd category points & a short & steep sting in the tail for the stage winning attack.

  • Cat 3: Col de Bellagranajo (6.6km@4.6%, 723m, 70 of 156km)
  • Cat3: Col de la Serra (5.2km@6.9%, 807m, 85 of 156km)
  • Cat 2: Col de Vizzavona (4.6km@5.6%, 1163m, 95.5 of 156km)
  • Cat 3: Côte du Salario (1km@8.9%, 98m, 144 of 156km)

Stage 3: Up & down all day, then a hill of similar gradient & length to what we find all over Scotland.

  • Cat 4: Col deSan Bastiano (3.4km@4.6%, 415m, 12 of 145.5km)
  • Cat 3: Col de San Martino (7.5km@5.4%, 429m, 58 of 145.5km)
  • Cat 3: Côte de Porto (2km@6.4%, 161m, 75 of 145.5km)
  • Cat 2: Col de Marsolino (3.3km@8.1%, 443m, 132 of 145.5km)

Stage 4:

  • Team Time Trial, no mountain points.

Stage 5: The breakaway riders will still be trying to scoop up a jersey.

  • Cat 3: Côte de Châteauneuf-Grasse (1.4km@8.4%, 388m, 22 of 228.5km)
  • Cat 4: Col del’Ange (1.6km@4.1%, 241m, 92 of 228.5km)
  • Cat 4: Col de la Roquebrussanne (3.5km@4.2%, 418m, 154 of 228.5km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de Bastides (5.7km@3.1%, 354m, 198 of 228.5km)

Stage 6: Only one point on offer today.

  • Cat 4: Col de la Vayède (0.7km@7%, 179m, 68 of 176.5km)

Stage 7: Another Cat2 climb, points starting to grow.

  • Cat 3: Col des 13 Vents (6.9km@5.6%, 600m, 80 of 205.5km)
  • Cat 2: Col de la Croix de Mounis (6.7km@6.5%, 809m, 94.5 of 205.5km)
  • Cat 3: Côte de la Quintaine (6.5km@4%, 739m, 149 of 205.5km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de Teillet (2.6km@5%, 491m, 171 of 205.5km)

Stage 8: The real climbing starts & the first weeks Côte-bagger stands aside for the rest of the Tour.

  • Cat 4: Côte de Saint-Ferréol (2.2km@5.4%, 374m, 26.5 of 195km)
  • HC: Col de Pailhères (15.3km@8%, 2001m, 166 of 195km)
  • Cat 1: Ax 3 Domaines (7.8km@8.2%, 1350m, 193.5 of 195km)

Stage 9: Huge amount of points up for grabs, expect climbers in the break.

  • Cat 2: Col de Portet-d’Aspet (5.4km@6.9%, 1069m, 28.5 of 168.5km)
  • Cat 1: Col de Menté (7km@7.7%, 1349m, 44 of 168.5km)
  • Cat 1: Col de Peyresourde (13.2km@7%, 1569m, 90 of 168.5km)
  • Cat 1: Col de Val Louron-Azet (7.4km@8.3%, 1580m, 110.5 of 168.5km)
  • Cat 1: La Hourquette d’Ancizan (9.9km@7.5%, 1564m, 138 of 168.5km)

Stage 10:

  • Cat 4: Côte de Dinan (1km@4.2%, 74m, 142 of 197km)

Stage 11:

  • Individual Time Trial, no mountain points.

Stage 12:

  • Flat stage, no mountain points.

Stage 13:

  • Cat 4: Côte de Crotz (1.2km@4%, 165m, 77.5 of 173km)

Stage 14:

  • Cat 4: Côte de Marcigny (1.9km@4.9%, 371m, 66.5 of 191km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de la Croix Couverte (2.6km@5.3%, 614m, 98.5 of 191km)
  • Cat 3: Côte de Thizy-las-Bourgs (1.7km@8.2%, 536m, 113 of 191km)
  • Cat 3: Col du Pilon (6.3km@4.4%, 727m, 126.5 of 191km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de Lozanne (2.5km@4%, 322m, 161 of 191km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de la Duchère (1.6km@4.1%, 263m, 176 of 191m)
  • Cat 4: Côte de la Croix-Rousse (1.8km@4.5%, 254m, 181.5 of 191km)

Stage 15: A monster stage with an absolute monster climb to the finish.

  • Cat 4: Côte d’Eyzin-Pinet (3.1km@4.9%, 436m, 20.5 of 242.5km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de Primarette (2.6km@4.1%, 459m, 26.5 of 242.5km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de Lens-Lestang (2.1km@3.8%, 424m, 44.5 of 242.5km)
  • Cat 3: Côte de Bourdeaux (4.2km@5.7%, 651m, 143 of 242.5km)
  • HC: Mont Ventoux (20.8km@7.5%, 1912m, At finish)

Stage 16:

  • Cat 3: Côte de la Montagne de Bluye (5.7km@5.6%, 590m, 17.5 of 168km)
  • Cat 2: Col de Macuègne (7.6km@5.2%, 1068m, 48 of 168km)
  • Cat 2: Col de Manse (9.5km@5.2 %, 1268m, 156.5 of 168km)

Stage 17: 32km Individual Time Trial, with two categorized climbs!

  • Cat 2: Côte de Puy-Sanières (6.4km@6%, 1173m, 6.5 of 32km)
  • Cat 2: Côte de Réallon (6.9km@6.3%, 1227m, 20 of 32km)

Stage 18:

  • Cat 2: Col de Manse (6.6km@6.2%, 1268m, 13 of 172.5km)
  • Cat 3: Rampe du Motty (2.4km@8%, 982m, 45 of 172.5km)
  • Cat 2: Col d’Ornon (5.1km@6.7%, 1371m, 95 of 172.5km)
  • HC: Alpe d’Huez (12.3km@8.4%, 1765m, 122.5 of 172.5km)
  • Cat 2: Col de Sarenne (3km@7.8%, 1999m, 131.5 of 172.5km)
  • HC: Alpe d’Huez (13.8km@8.1%, 1850m, At finish)

Stage 19:

  • HC: Col du Glandon (21.6km@5.1%, 1924m, 33.5 of 204.5km)
  • HC: Col de la Medeleine (19.2km@7.9%, 2000m, 83.5 of 204.5km)
  • Cat 2: Col de Tamié (8.6km@6.2%, 907m, 143 of 204.5km)
  • Cat 1: Col de l’Épine (6.1km@7.3%, 947m, 165 of 204.5km)
  • Cat 1: Col de la Croix Fry (11.3km@7%, 1477m, 191.5 of 204.5km)

Stage 20: Very tough short stage with tough climbs from the beginning, somebody could easily crack.

  • Cat 2: Côte du Puget (5.4km@5.9%, 796m, 12.5 of 125km)
  • Cat 3: Col de Leschaux (3.6km@6.1%, 944m, 17.5 of 125km)
  • Cat 3: Côte d’Aillon-le-Vieux (6km@4%, 929m, 43 of 125km)
  • Cat 3: Col de Prés (3.4km@6.9%, 1142m, 51 of 125km)
  • Cat 1: Mont Revard (15.9km@5.6%, 1463m, 78.5 of 125km)
  • HC: Annecy-Seminoz (10.7km@8.5%, 1655m, At finish)

Stage 21: Finally, with 100km left of the 2013 Tour, the last mountain points are up for grabs.

  • Cat 4: Côte de Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse (1km@6.9%, 154m, 29.5 of 133.5km)
  • Cat 4: Côte de Châteaufort (0.9km@4.7%, 155m, 33.5 of 133.5km)

Points On Offer

As you can see, equivalent hills on paper don’r carry the same mountain category, there is no strict formula on this, it depends on many factors other than length & gradient. The position in the stage & the changes in gradient also play a big factor. The ‘big climbs’ you encounter during your own training in the UK are probably all in the Cat 3 & Cat 4 range.

The easiest climbs are Cat 4, rising to the highest categorized as Cat1, we then move onto the HC climbs, which are beyond category & carry even higher mountain points tallies.

The points are awarded as follows:

  • HC: Points for 1st to 10th, 1st takes 25 points, 10th takes 2 points.
  • Cat 1: Points for 1st to 6th, 1st takes 10 points, 6th takes 1 point.
  • Cat 2: Points for 1st to 4th. 1st takes 5 points, 4th takes 1 point.
  • Cat 3: 1st takes 2 points, 2nd takes 1 point.
  • Cat 4: 1st takes 1 point.

Once the big mountains start, any points gained in the first week will look very insignificant, I expect there to plenty of competition for this jersey, as riders with shattered dreams of GC glory try to mop up some glory by taking a jersey, the maillot à pois rouges is their best bet outside stage wins to redeem their race.

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