As you might expect, we got to watch stage 10 live on Spanish TV.
An eye-opener. I got to see the countryside I had ridden through. Rain and low cloud meant I saw virtually nothing of it. No wonder it was cold at the top, there was snow up there on mountain tops!
Watching the Tourmalet downhill brought a shiver down my spine. I saw the track I shot off the road on, and some off the other driveways I used. And as they went up Hautacam, where I had my prang on the way back down. Man, it was so close to the bottom - they had only just started climbing up. When I cleaned up the bike, a few days later, my bike computer showed max speed of 83.47kph !!! Holy Shit! And, of course, now all cleaned up, the brakes work perfectly. I don't know. The bike is fine, though I have had to have handle bar tape replaced - it was pretty ragged. A few small scrapes on the brake hoods - badges of honour!
But it appears Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde knew something, when after stage nine he said, "Let's hope that the weather will be as nice as today; otherwise the downhill of the Tourmalet could be more difficult than the climb." (http://www.cyclingnews.com/) Well, it was for them but ...
The highlights package didn't do justice to the climbs. It was good reliving them, being able to see what I rode up. Man they were tough. I was gobsmacked at the cadence those boys could turn over on those mountains. I see they were over an hour quicker than first in our event. But we did go 14 km further!! I realise afterwards also that because of my stop and slow downhill, I was probaly struggling up through slower guys on the Hautacam.
The 1520-metre Hautacam comes at the end of a 156-kilometre day, preceded by two category three climbs and the Col du Tourmalet. "I have never raced the Hautacam; I have only done it in training," Sastre [CSC team rider] said after stage nine. "It is a really hard mountain. The gradient stays the same all the way up – from eight to 10 percent – and you don't have any time to recover." (http://www.cyclingnews.com/)
But watching on TV reminded me of a couple of things. How even though you tucked in behind the man in front (there were a few women, not many, and some very good) you rode just a little wide to avoid his rooster-tail of road water flying into your face. Also, all the wet, slippery, white lines. Especially when you went around right angle corners, you rode over treacherous pedestrian crossings going into, and out of , the corners in vilages and usually painted atop speed bumps.
And, the big one. My Aussie boy Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey on my stage! And he came off the day before as well!
I am trying to put the prang aside. I feel really pleased with my efforts on the true ride of this stage, the mountains.