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How far to go? Stage 16 TdF2010 (mountain)


How far to go. Stage 16 TdF2010 was the biggest climbing stage of the Tour, but the last climb was some 60km from the finish, which made for a weird looking profile for the day. The boys scaled four enormous mountains, the first beginning from km 0. Tough gig.

After fireworks from big name riders lit the early miles up the climb, a pseudo break settled down about 25sec ahead of the peloton, and it held some very big names.

Hearing these names get read out on the radio we in the car were sweating on “Hesjedal” being mentioned — it would have been a very nice move to be a part of, and we were stoked to finally hear the big Canadian get a mention!

It was a very good moment, and Robby and I (my car companion) both had goosebumps thinking about our very chilled out team mate stepping up to be at home with the big hitters.

Robby and I were scheduled to again help out the boys on one of the climbs up the road, and so we needed to get going to get in front of the race as the roads over the mountains are not paralleled anywhere, making it very difficult to pass the race.

Stage 16 TdF2010
Whitey rockin out with the air BlackBerry.

Having done quite a few days of this by now, I had become quite cocky, and was content to wait a little longer so Whitey (our director) could listen to one more Noiseworks track to fire him up.

For those very few of you not in the know, Noiseworks were one of the great Australian pub rock bands in the 80s and early 90s.

Of course, that final track of “Reach Out” meant that an overzealous race official blocked Robby and I from passing the start line (some twenty five minutes prior to the race was scheduled to start, mind) and we had to wait for the race to begin to get going and shift ourselves off the course.

We suddenly found ourselves needing to go nearly 50km out of our way to get in front of the race. Furious resetting of the Garmin, coupled with hasty glances at the race book with the schedule for when the boys were due to get to the point that we’d decided we could get to in front of them, and we were off on our own mini-adventure prior to doing our jobs.

It was entirely my fault that we were in the bind, and entirely Robby’s that we got ourselves out of it. Great driving, great navigation and a cool head (all from Robby), and we were on the course in front of the race a grand total of 15 minutes in front of the riders.

I remind you that we were going to leave 25 minutes prior to the start. Got to love logic-free officialdom!

Anyhoo, after all of our driving, it was odd to see the 50km completed sign. There was still THAT far to go?

We then drove up the Tourmalet, a magnificent drive at the best of times, made even better by the thousands of fans all going wild in anticipation of seeing the show go down. It looked like great fun out there! We parked on the top to take some photos and enjoy the atmosphere, then continued on our way.

How far to go
That’s a lot of climbing. And a lot of people.

We arrived at the bottom of the Aubisque, and I had to laugh upon seeing the sign “29.2km to Summit” — HOW far?

I can’t imagine what passes through a person’s mind when they read a sign like that.Incredible.

Robby and I stationed ourselves close to the top of the climb, and settled in to wait, making sure we had plans to get the drinks to Ryder in particular as the roads were so narrow it would be difficult for him to be able to get anything from Whitey in the car following.

Eventually the boys came by us, with the crowds again going mental, and we managed to get some drinks to Dave Zabriskie (who was doing a great job helping Ryder out). A job completed for us, not quite as hassle-free as we could have hoped, but completed nonetheless!

The remainder of the boys came through all looking as good as you can after climbing so many metres in such a short distance (“HOW far to go?”) and we headed back to the hotel to continue with getting the boys ready for the next day of racing.

Rest day tomorrow! You beauty.

Toby Watson
Toby Watson
Ex-Garmin Transitions physiotherapist and soigneur Toby Watson brings you inside the squad, and shows you what it's like to be working with a top team on the biggest races in the world. Through his regular blog updates, Toby shares his sense of drama and fun that were essential parts of his job. Toby is Australian, and currently lives in Girona with his fiancee Amanda. If he has any time, he enjoys reading and running, and occasionally skiing too, when he can.

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