Le Tour Baby! – Stage 8, Morzine-Avoriaz

by CyclingTips

I’m finally here….my first Tour de France!  We’ve been in the Swiss / French Alps for a couple weeks now waiting for the Tour to come to us.  As much as I would have loved to have seen the first week, you’d have to be mad to follow around the tour all over the countryside.   It would be a logistical nightmare.  I’ve been having just as much fun doing my own Tour of France and watching the race on TV most days at a civil hour of the day.

I was advised that a great place to base ourselves for a few days would be Morzine.  Stage 8 finished in this small French town, today is the rest day, and tomorrow we’ll see the riders off for Stage 9.  That means we get to stay in one beautiful mountain town for 3 days, get some sensational riding in, mingle with the tour riders, and see both the start and the finish of a stage.

During the morning of Stage 8 I decided to ride up the final climb from Morzine to Avoriaz.  It’s 13.6km at 6.1%.  Those numbers don’t do it justice.  I used every tooth of my 26T cassette to grind my way to the top.   The highlight of the climb in-between my self-inflicted pain was bumping into Phil Anderson and having a good chat with him.  Amazingly nice guy with some stories I wouldn’t believe if they were coming out of anyone else’s mouth.  I was riding with a true legend who had ridden some historic stages on this exact same road.  I had to pinch myself.

Any of you have have been to the Tour de France will know that the race is only a small part of the whole event.  With the race brings the excitement, the anticipation, the engagement, the star power.  The festivities and people surrounding the Tour make up the biggest part of the event which makes it phenomenal to be a part of.  There’s a whole lot more I could say but my photos should describe it much better than words ever will.  I’d only ruin it to try to explain it.  Enjoy!

#1: 9am and this guy was already drunk as a skunk
#2: At 35 degrees on the hill Vittel was one of the most sought after sponsors of the tour
#3: These guys really know how to work a crowd for a cheap give-away. An advertisers dream!

#4: The candy freebies were always popular
#5: Girls on rollerblades always popular too
#6: Hello!
#7: Crazy Aussies absolutely everywhere
#8: GabyGaby painting memories on the roads throughout the tour. Check out www.GabyGabyOnTour.com
#9: Thor and the Norway flag were one of the most painted things on the road
#10: Once you get tired of the race caravan and all the freebies you can sit on the grass and watch the race on its way to Avoriaz
#12: A kid's bike race up part of the climb before the real race came. How good would that be for this little guy?!
#13: Say "Fromage"!
#14: Or as they say in France..."Say Frites!"
#17: This Gendarmerie kept trying to act serious but could never hold it together
#18: The Finish Line into the ski resort Avoriaz
#19: Look at the faces of the best cyclists in the world!
#20: Good ol' Canuck Hesjedal moves into 6th on GC
#21: Lance cracks up to Avoriaz "Sometimes you're the nail, sometimes you're the hammer". I'm impressed with how he's handling the end of his era
#22: This is why it's called the "Red Kite Prayer"
#24: The groupetto
#26: The second group coming towards the finish line
#27: Allez Allez Allez!!!
#28: Schleck and Sánchez 300m from the finish
#29: I love you Andy!!!
#30: Viva la France!
#31: Sánchez usually has a good kick but had nothing to respond to Schleck coming over him in the last few meters
#32:Robert Gesink was another popular name written all over the roads
#34: Chavanel had a bad day but one more day in yellow was all he wanted
#35: Matty Lloyd!
#36: Schleck and Raymond Poulidor, known as the eternal second. Second place in the TdF 3 times, 3rd place five times. He never wore the Yellow Jersey in 14 Tours
#37: Lance wasn't the only one who didn't want to talk to the media after the race. Every single rider was completely shattered
#38: The final work of GabyGaby
#39: There was no avoiding the queues on the way back down the hill
#40: Later that night, the Dutch fans watching the World Cup in horror. You could cut the tension with a knife with the Spaniards whooping it up across the street!

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The winner of the BMC replica jersey and knicks from Friday’s trivia competition is ***Jii*** Congratulations!  Please get in touch with me so I can get you the details. (cyclingtips at gmail dot com)

Today’s prize will be an Apres Velo women’s clothing pack worth $220.  It contains a long sleeve hooded T shirt, a V-neck T-shirt, a semi fitted crew neck tee, a watterbottle, a coffee mug, and a pair of low cut socks.  (Click image for larger picture).

The prize will go to anyone who gets the trivia answers correct or provides a winning caption for one of the photos (mine are horrible since it’s 2am and I have a drunk Brit talking my ear off next to me).

1. Under an agreement between the UCI and Tour organisers, this year 16 teams are automatically selected by UCI world rankings, with the balance given a wild card from the organisers. Name a team invited because they were not automatically selected?

2. Only 5 riders in history have won all 3 Grand Tours, who was the last to do so?

3. True or False – Andy & Frank Schleck’s father is famous as a politician and former Olympic speed skater in Luxemburg.

4. In the 1971 TdF, Eddie Merckx refused to wear the yellow jersey. Why?

A. It clashed with Merckx’s team nicks.
B. Merckx was protesting at the officials’ heavy handling of his actions in the previous stage sprint.
C. Luis Ocana crashed heavily losing giving the lead to Merckx, who refused to wear it when Ocana pulled out after the stage.

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