We had to abandon our plans to cycle up the Tourmalet to watch yesterday’s Queen stage on account of the thunderstorms. Instead, we settled for watching it from the foot of the Tourmalet. We arrived early to secure a parking place beside the road and tried to set up our portable TV. The signal was too weak, ditto for our portable WiFi. Undaunted, we left the safe confines of the car and braved the elements to find a bar, appropriately named Le Refuge, which had a large flat screen TV.
Not long after Sammy Sanchez had regained the peloton, following his fall at around 24km from the start, the thunder and lightning started again. This time it struck the local relay station taking out all the digital transmissions. Time to invoke, Plan D. We returned to the car, turned on the radio and watched the action on my beloved’s mobile while awaiting the arrival of the peloton.
Finally, it was starting to dry out, although the fog was still swirling around the final ascent. The road was lined with spectators of every age and nationality. The sense of anticipation in the air was palpable. The children, having consumed all the edible freebies dispensed by the caravan, were practising their encouragements with the inflatable batons. After a veritable procession of cars and bikes the all important cavalcade hove into view with the lead group just behind. Sky were leading the charge up the Tourmalet, closely followed by Carlos Sastre, on his tod.
The peloton was over 3 minutes back where Contador and Schleck were eyeballing one another. Andy had promised to attack today, recognising that his options were running out like the sands of time. Attack he did, 10km from the summit: not once, not twice, but three times. He couldn’t shake Bert who, to demonstrate his strength, also launched an attack. Game over. They rode to the finish and, having overhauled those in the break, Bert graciously allowed Andy to take the stage. The war was over.