Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2007 - Day 4: Stage 15, Foix -...

Le Tour de France 2007 – Day 4: Stage 15, Foix – Loudenvielle Le Louron

-

The sun is hot even at 07.15, the autoroute is quiet, straight and fast; we’re headed for le Tour départ and then Loudenvielle Le Louron; Millie Jackson is telling us that her man is a “fine man” – what more could you want from life?

It’s 10.00 am now and we’re on the descent off the first climb of the day, the second cat, Col de Port (or Portet, depending on which sign you look at).

Loudenvielle Le Louron
Descending the Portet we stop to pay our respects to Fabio Casartelli.

Martin got his first look at le Tour village this morning, as always, the scrambled eggs were great and the coffee strong.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
The famous Tourmalet.

The views in the Pyrennes are wonderful, not that different from looking south from Poolewe down over all the ranges to the Cuilins of Skye.

The deal today was to take readers through a full stage – all 196 kilometres of it.

If you are a ‘civilian’ on the Tour you are really restricted to one spot to watch the race.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
Norse fans give us a wave.

The route and every last little lane feeding on to it are all policed by thousands of gendarmes.

If you don’t have the magic stickers, then you don’t move, full stop.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
That’s a fast descent.

We just thought it would be good to let folk see as much of a stage as we could, and talk to a few characters on the way.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
Mountain chalets.

It was a great experience and once again it was driven-home to us how hard pro bike racing is; in fact, it occurs to me that maybe the stages are just too tough.

But Dave Chapman would argue that point, he reckons it has to be super-challenging in order to be the Tour.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
Empty roads – but not for long.

We met Cycling.TV’s Brian Smith today.

We were stopped, chatting to some folks from Wales, an estate car stopped, and there was our Brian. The CTV cameraman, James was there too, a good lad, we roomed together a few nights on the Tour last year. Rebecca, their little blonde Aussie cutie presenter has moved-on to better things; a shame, she and James and I had good fun last year.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
We met some great folks today – these guys were from Wales.

The press room was at the finish today, which is always a boon. Copy isn’t the problem, it’s getting the pictures away.

It’s a huge help having Martin with me, I’m a computer troglodyte, with him, it’s his job.

But the speed you can transmit is dependent on a lot of factors, not least the fact that there are so many people using wi-fi in the place that the system is operating near its limits.

However, we got our 55 pictures off. It’s 21.20 now and we’ve been on the go since 06.30, long days are just the way it is on the Tour.

We’re staying in Lourdes tonight and Martin has just driven us over the Col d’Aspin en route to the town of miracles.

Loudenvielle Le Louron
A great skyline tonight from the hotel window.

At least we know where we’re headed tonight, Pez has all of our hotels pre-booked; it might be late when you arrive, but at least you know there’s a bed waiting for you.

Last year, if I wasn’t sharing a room with the Cycling TV crew, then I had to go off in search of digs – a pain!

Lourdes, a cross between Blackpool, The Vatican, Disneyland and a bonnie old French village.

There are hundreds of souvenir shops selling all manner of religous tat, neon lights everywhere, “pilgrims” by the thousand and – according to Martin’s guide book – more hotels than any other city in France except gay Paris.

Anyway, it’s home for a couple of days and the pizzas are half the price they were in Toulouse.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed and Martin, our top team! They try to do the local Time Trials, the Grand Tours and the Classics together to get the great stories written, the quality photos taken, the driving done and the wifi wrestled with.

Related Articles

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 16; Carcassonne – Bagnères-de-Luchon, 237 km

We've left Carcassonne and heading for Bagnères-de-Luchon. But first, our favourite picture of the Tour so far ? L'Équipe's shot of F des J manager Marc Madiot kissing Arnold Jeannesson after Stage 16 for all the good work he did for Pinot during his six-and-a-quarter hour 16 shift. Some folks poke fun at Madiot; we like his style - committed, passionate and outspoken. As a rider he was brilliant; a French Pro champion, two wins in Paris-Roubaix and top tens in Flanders - he's got the T-shirt, in our book.

Le Tour de France – Day 8: Stage 20, Cerilly to Saint-Amand-Montrond

The Salle de Presse in Saint-Amand-Montrond, 17.30 Saturday 26th July and Carlos Sastre has just won the Tour de France, it won't be official until tomorrow after the big show on the Champs Elysee, but it's won. Personally I'm happy with the result; at least Sastre took the race by the scruff of the neck on L'Alpe D'Huez, an 'exploit.' Evans strategy of following may have been dictated by the weakness of his team, but it would have been hard to be enthusiastic about him as a Tour winner.

Double Challenge: TdF 2010 Stage 8 (mountaintop)

Double Challenge. Mountain stages in bike races are inevitably decisive in sorting where riders finish in the race overall. They pose a number of challenges to a team atop the obvious physical barrier of the terrain itself.

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 8; Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon. Froome Surprises Everyone!

As with last year when he was jousting with the pave specialists in the first week, Chris Froome again confounded his critics, descending like a man possessed, leaving the demon descenders glued to the macadam, taking all the risks - but more importantly taking the stage and maillot jaune. A terrific ride, no question, no caveats. But the dreams end for GVA, Bert and Pinot; no jaune for Yates but he consolidates blanc - whilst our friend Michael Mørkøv climbs into the team car.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 2; York – Sheffield, 198 km. The Tour in Yorkshire and Nibali in Yellow

Astana’s design team may not have made a good job of that Italian champion’s jersey but it’s wearer, Vincenzo Nibali certainly made a good job of Stage Two of the 2014 Tour de France (aka The Tour in Yorkshire), catching an elite group napping with 1700 metres to go to take stage and GC glory. 'Shark Attack in Sheffield' said the ASO press release - we like that. The nay sayers were writing him off just a week or two ago but the man has won two of the three Grand Tours and has finished on the podium of all three – to underestimate him was folly.

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 17: La Mure – Serre-Chevalier, 183km. Primož Roglič ahead of the ‘Royal’ party

A decisive battle? No. A day of attrition? Absolutely. The ‘Royal’ group at the head of affairs behind winning LottoNL ski jumper turned cyclist Slovenian, Primož Roglič speaks for itself; Christopher Froome ((Sky & GB) is back in his usual position, at the front with a hugely strong team to back him and a time trial ‘buffer’ if he needs it.

At Random

Le Tour de France 2012 – Stage 9: Arc-et-Senans – Besançon (ITT), 41.5km.

I guess I have to face up to it: it’s a black and blue – and yellow, world. I best get the hand of this ‘box ticking’ thing, then.

Hambini – the Aeronautical Engineer who tells it like it is

If you read the recent, ‘Vik Rant’ we ran the other day, you’ll be aware that the VeloVeritas answer to Nostradamus is a disciple of a certain Mr. Hambini, purveyor of tools, small parts and bottom brackets and also Facebook and YouTube Videos about the quality of bicycle frames and componentry. We thought it would be interesting speak to the man.

Gent-Gent & Kuurne Brussels Kuurne – Day 3

Another beautiful day; I like the drive to Kuurne Brussels Kuurne, if the weather is nice. The fields, the canals, the rows of poplars, the old brick farm houses, counter posed by flat roof modernist houses. The routine is well rehearsed at Kuurne - check the 'B' team car park at the sports centre, then up to the 'A' team car park at the start...

Craig Maclean – Moving from Racing to Coaching, with Guitars!

‘Back in the day’ when he was World Team Sprint Champion and a silver medallist in the World Individual Sprint Championship we used to speak to Scottish fast man Craig Maclean on a regular basis. Since then he’s gone on to be a successful tandem pilot on the paralympic scene and, he’s gone into coaching – as well as ‘playing in the band.’ High times VeloVeritas ‘had a word.’

Tyler Hamilton – Victim or Villain?

This interview was first published in December 2009, but in light of current events, we thought it would be interesting to re-read it and compare it's contents with what's in Tyler's book 'The Secret Race'... Now that the initial furore has died down following the shocking news of Tyler Hamilton's positive doping test, VeloVeritas thought we should hear what the man himself has to say. It took us a long time and a lot of patience, but eventually he came back to us with the answers to our questions.

The ‘Tour Series’ Edinburgh Criterium, 2016 Goes to Graham Briggs

The thing with riders like JLT Condor's Graham Briggs is that they are very good at what they do, training specifically for these one hour efforts and riding bikes adapted to crit racing with high brackets – it’s hard for English road pros to beat them never mind Scottish riders used to slogging across the moors in wind and rain. But for a crit to be spectacular it needs to be gutter to gutter, handlebar to handlebar – the circuit used for this year's Edinburgh Tour Series event does not produce that kind of race. And like Willard says to the GI in the movie ‘Apocalypse Now !’ – ‘do you know who’s in charge here, soldier?’