Billed as the hardest stage of the whole tour, this three Hors catégorie (HC) climb route was a monster!
It didn't start quite as planned, a poor nights sleep left me groggy and slow this morning, I also had the start of a stomach ache.
After we joined the peloton on the neutralized start it was a steady 9 mile descent to the start of Col de Madeleine, a 16 mile slog of a climb with multiple steep pitches including the final 2 miles averaging ~11%.
My plan was the same as the previous day, stay well within my numbers as it was going to be a long day. A mile or so in to the climb my stomach problems started to get worse and I was sick in to my mouth. I kept up the fluid intake and decided to take on some food which was a mistake as it came back up and I started to feel generally sick. I backed off and kept a steady pace, albeit slower than I would have hoped.
I continually took on fluid but was unable to eat anything which was a huge concern given the length of the climb. I continued to spin but felt a lot worse then I did on the final climb yesterday; I couldn't develop power above about 225 watts and my heart rate was pegged at about 147 bpm, which considering the effort I was putting in was worrying for the rest of the day ahead. I was also being passed by quite a few people which was very frustrating.
No to put too finer point on it I belched and farted my way up the mountain and with about 3 miles to go I started to feel better. I got my heart rate up to > 155 bpm and was able to get my power up to a consistent 275 watts, this meant I was able to gain some time back and passed quite a few of the people who had passed me earlier.
The timed section ended at the top so I was able to take a much needed break, more fluid and half a banana and a much needed visit to the mens room!!!
The descent off Col de Madeleine was non-timed so no pressure, but still a very fun descent. A nice flat section at the bottom was perfect for taking on food, which thankfully stayed down.
Next, 13 miles up Col de Glandon, another brutal climb with no respite just road going up! Felt loads better on this climb, stayed at a good pace and felt fully in control, even managed to up the watts for the last few miles to take me to top. Very quick stop to fill a bottle then on to the long and VERY fast timed descent, beautiful sweeping turns and good roads with amazing scenery meant I was able to top out at 50 mph - big grin. The only downside to the descent was a 10% 1 mile climb right in the middle - rude!
The timed section ended towards the bottom of the descent where a nice 6 mile non-
timed section, gave time for much needed recovery and nutrition, took us to the bottom of the iconic Alp D'Huez. Quick rest stop for a pee and fill a bottle and then on to the climb. I've wanted to do this climb for as long as I've been cycling and I was finally here, very exciting!
Part of my plan for the day had been to ensure I got here with enough gas to give it a really good go, and I'm happy to say I literally left it all out on the road with this amazing climb. 21 switch backs, lots of double digit sections and amazing scenery. I got to the top absolutely broken.... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry but the sense of achievement was incredible!
Stage: 95 overall / 35 in age group
GC: 91 overall / 35 in age group
Statistics for full ride, inc. non-timed sections:
Distance: 82.6 miles
Avg Speed: 12.6 mph
Elevation Gain: 14,393 ft
Stomach was still unsettled so a moderate lunch before back to the hotel for shower and massage.
Couldn't stomach much dinner, so plenty of fluids and to bed, hope a good nights rest will do the trick.
Until tomorrow my friends