The Etape du Tour riders could not possibly have asked for a more beautiful day to ride 181 kilometers from Pau to La Mongie. We got up before dawn to get on the bus from our hotels to get to the early morning start. The 3:30 a.m. wake-up call was brutal, I’m sure! And the reward was getting to most of the stage that the Tour de France riders will cover tomorrow. That means pedaling over the Col de Marie-Blanque, 9.5 kilometers averaging 7.5%, the Col du Soulor, 22k averaging just under 5%, and finishing up the Tourmalet, 19k averaging 7.5%. It was a long day in the saddle, but what an accomplishment! The first riders came in around in 6 hours… Lots were still coming in around 10 hours and more. Then, after crossing the finish line and getting their medals, the riders had to climb up one more hill to get their lunch!
Our self-guided Pyrenees riders got their first day on the bikes today, too. We set them off on a gorgeous, blue-sky day (a nice change from yesterday’s fog and cold!). Most pedaled away from the Etape ride, but they still got to climb the Tourmalet to get home to the hotel. All in all, a great day on the mountain.