Day 14: La Rosiére

July 18, 2018

It’s our fourth Tour de France day! Today the 11th stage of the race starts in Albertville and works it’s way eastward to the ski station of La Rosiére. The fun part of this stage is we (ok, Matt) have biked portions of the route already. On Monday, we biked from Areches to Bourg Saint-Maurice, passing over the Col du Pré and the Cormet de Roselend. Today, Matt will join the others and bike from Bourg Saint-Maurice up to La Rosiére to watch the end of the stage. I will hike into town with Eileen and watch the race come through at the base of the climb.

2018 Tour de France Stage 11 map

Due to traffic and road closures, our bike van was parked a bit outside of Bourg Saint-Maurice, the base of the 18 kilometer (~11 mile) climb to La Rosiére. La Rosiére may sound familiar because on Sunday we passed through on our ride to get to Col du Petit Saint Bernard. However, today the Tour is taking a more difficult route to scale the mountain, and since we are here for the Tour, that’s the one we’re doing too!

When the Tour shuts down automobile traffic

This way to La Rosiére

Sleepy morning in Montvalezan before TDF madess

Winding up the mountain above Montvalezan

While Matt and the others trudged their way up almost 5,000 feet on two wheels, Eileen and I stayed on two feet and walked from the van to Bourg. We found the restaurant where we had lunch on Sunday, and Eileen managed to use her French to make us a reservation before we set off on a walk.

Our path took us from Bourg to Séez, the next town on the route. Plenty of camper vans and cars were getting ready for the race. When we got to the end of the town, we turned around and walked back to the restaurant in time to meet Dave and Phil.

Meanwhile, Matt was riding to the top, then meeting Paul and Jason to watch the race. During lunch, Dave called Paul, who confirmed that Matt was “sitting under a tree, drinking a beer,” so I knew he was safe and happy.

Fans watching the race on the big screen down the hill

Mountain seats

The portion of the road painted pink was one of the steepest sections

Access to finish line is limited on race days, only 200 meters farther

Dehydration and heat exhaustion, but with a view!!!

All better. Exactly as Jo imagined

When we finished lunch, Dave and Phil moved inside to watch the Tour on TV, while Eileen and I found a good spot outside. Matt and the others descended slightly to about 4km from the finish line. We saw another sponsor parade and scored some more TDF SWAG. My catches of candy and snacka were fun, but not too necessary. By comparison, Matt’s catches up the mountain were necessary for his survival (slighly over-dramatic) and the Goldbears/meat snack things were consumed ASAP.

Yellow jersey stuffed lion car

Watching the race in Bourg

Waiting for the race up the mountain

“You remember what color we are supposed to use there?”

Finally, the racers passed though. The earlier part of today’s stage included some very difficult climbs (including the Col du Pré and the Cormet de Roselend that Matt completed), causing the riders to be pretty spread out. After most packs of riders passed us in the town, we returned to the restaurant to watch on TV. Then the race turned uphill where Matt, Paul, Jason and Martha had camped out in various spots. Here’s a video of Matt’s view near the top: Video

Roadside view about 5k from the top

Greg Van Avermaet has the yellow jersey on, but is going to lose it shortly

Not a stage for Sagan, but he’s ok with the other sprinters

Once the race finished, Dave and Phil biked back to the van, while Eileen and I walked. The four watching from the mountain started to make their way down with the throngs of people and bikers. On the road throught Montevalezan, Matt and all the other bikers had to wait about 20 minutes for Mark Cavendish to pass through, far behind the peloton. Spoiler alert: he didn’t make the time cut and was ousted from the race.

Waiting for Cavendish to get the green light

Paul and Jason made it back first, followed by Matt and Martha about 20 minutes later (thanks, Cavendish). The race finished atabout 5:30pm and we arrived back to the Chalet at about 8pm. We settled in and devoured another delicious dinner. Tomorrow we have an early start as we will bike/hike the epic Alpes d’Huez and watch Stage 12 of the Tour.