Will Frischkorn’s Tour de France diary, stage 15
Into the Alps we went today and it was an epic. It was pouring rain at the start, coming down in sheets. This was when the long bomb break with our man Pate in it took off. Then as we started up Angel pass, a nearly 25k beast that took us up to 2700 meters, the sun poked through and with the humidity so thick it was like a sauna. Then the wind kicked up, absolutely battering us up the open slopes of the climb and cooling things back off.
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By Will Frischkorn
Into the Alps we went today and it was an epic. It was pouring rain at the start, coming down in sheets. This was when the long bomb break with our man Pate in it took off.
Then as we started up Angel pass, a nearly 25k beast that took us up to 2700 meters, the sun poked through and with the humidity so thick it was like a sauna. Then the wind kicked up, absolutely battering us up the open slopes of the climb and cooling things back off.
As we crested the top the rain started up again, wind assisted, and the roads turned to glass on the way down. Crashes — some serious ones — dotting the descent.
After “settling in” to a high speed single file chase in crosswinds, a light drizzle as we headed through a town turned a greasy roundabout into an ice rink. Absolute carnage.
I was sixth in our line, just behind Christian, and watched as each of my teammates hit the deck, then followed suit. A Gerolsteiner bike ended up below me as I was sliding and I clearly remember thinking “man, lucky this bike is taking the brunt of this” as the thing was just ground into the pavement for 10 meters. Then I realized the chainrings were in my hip; a little tattoo to remember the day by.
With 40 guys, at least, on the deck there were plenty of chasers to get back on with, but the pressure remained on at the front. The break had some serious time and it was going to be tight for the peloton to get close enough to overtake them on the final climb. In the end they stayed clear, Pate pulling an awesome third on the day, and Christian still right up there in the GC game. It’s going to be an interesting couple of days yet to go in the hills with a crazy tight top group of guys.
The craziest part of the day however was post race. After quickly bundling up we headed back down the climb, along with the thousands of fans who’d been cheering for us on the way up. While I said the day up Hautacam was nuts in a previous journal, it was nothing compared to this. Take the same situation but toss in the stereotypical Italian driver (on a bike).
We were all trying to thread the gaps, clear a patch for each other, and use a little bit of safety in numbers on once again wet and ice-rink like roads. If I weren’t tired and hurting from the crash it could have almost been fun – as it was we were all pretty close to cracking.
In probably the same time it took us to climb the last 10k we finally made it back down. The bus with a plate of grub and showers to follow has rarely been such a welcome sight. An hour later however as we’re still driving to the hotel it’s going to be nice to step off onto terra firma.
Rest day tomorrow, then back at it on Tuesday for a battle royale!