Woke up to a misty cool morning in the French Alpes. This photo is the view from our hotel room - notice the golf course again at the base of the ski field!
Dropped down to the town at the bottom of Alpe D'Huez, Bourg d'Oisans, we expected that most of the traffic from last night would have cleared but NO! Campervans everywhere and people crawling out of tents pitched in the most impossible spots. Everyone looked a bit worse for wear! We picked up some essential supplies and left town as fast as possible (along with the thousands of others heading in the same direction!).
Dave had a spot picked out in the village of Belmont. To get there we had to drive over Col Luitel (a mere 1262 metres high). Sadly, the road was no wider than a goat track and we were mostly in really thick cloud - scary stuff! Incredibly there were little bundles of houses at regular distances as we snaked our way up the hill. They sometimes live in impossible places these French folks!
Made it to our spot just after the caravan went through so no free stuff today - ah well! Found a place to set up on an inside corner and settled in to wait for the cyclists to come past.
Because it was the individual time trial they started at 10.30am setting riders off at 2 minute intervals, but while we waited a number of the big names in the race cruised past doing their warm-up 45 km ride (I have yet to do a 45 Km ride!!!). There was a great photo opportunity as the Shleck brothers cruised by - sadly the camera was in the bag under my chair at the time! I did get Voekler though....
Dave's big mission for the day was to thank Julian for the bottle and for being so friendly...so he made a special sign from a cardboard box that he begged from the hotel this morning...Julian smiled as he went past but was very focused on his ride (as were all the riders).
I was trying to get a few different photos today...looking at legs and faces. Most of the leg photo's were rubbish but one worked. Wanted to get George Hincappies legs - they are disgusting - but only got all of him. 17 TDF's and his veins are all gross and deformed - Dave thinks they look like the Pyrenees!
So on the left nice cyclists legs and on the right George's legs (not the best as the worst of it is on the inside).
Time trial's are very different to the rest of the TDF as it's very much an individual moment for each cyclist, even those who are rubbish are trying their very hardest for their team. From a New Zealand perspective we're delighted because the Garmin-Cervelo team will take away the team prize and of course that is Julian Dean's team - yay. Dave also thinks that it's good because we have relied on Mrs Garmin (our GPS) to get us everywhere for the last 23 days - I'm not so sure about that one!).
The time trial was the end of the fun for the fans from Luxemburg - Andy just is not in the same league as Cadel Evans when it comes to time trialling. So an Australian will take away the Tour de France for the first time ever, and one of the oldest riders for a while. Great for the Aussies and they were full of themselves - sigh! After the time trial finished we packed up our gear for the last time and wandered off to a bar in nearby in Uriage les Bains to catch a few highlights on the TV (and use the facilities!). Sadly it was full of Ozzies and we didn't stick around for long!
We had no hotel booking for the night so spent a little while finding a place - mistakenly started looking in small villages - no hotels for love nor money. So ended up heading into the big smoke of Chambery where the Lonely Planet recommended the Art Hotel. Not expensive but barely room to swing a cat! Couldn't open the bathroom door fully as it hit the bed first!
So that was our Tour De France - we're not going to Paris tomorrow - too far and virtually no chance of finding a spot to see anything...so just mooching around the country-side for the next few days with no particular plan. Thinking of heading into Switzerland Monday....other than that no plans.