We knew the Alps would be huge – and they didn’t disappoint. This is tough riding, but with glorious weather on our side we had the enormous rewards of absolutely breathtaking views. When you ride mountains like this, the experience stays with you for life.
Many of you will have been following some of the riders’ own blogs, but there are a few really worth of note that we have been enjoying so much this tour – in particular the vlogs (video blogs – for anyone over the age of 40!). No one tells this story better than the riders themselves. So if you haven’t already done so, settle down with a cup of tea and catch up on a few:
Chris Stephens: https://www.instagram.com/chrisandthetour/
Barry O’Sullivan: https://www.instagram.com/barryos/
Roly Kitson: rolykitsontourdeforce.wordpress.com
Ian Coop and Chris Lewis: https://crankman26.wordpress.com
Neil Nash Williams: https://www.saddlesorestylist.wordpress.com
John Griffiths: http://johnstourdeforce.wordpress.com
Michael Dean, ‘Deano’: https://www.facebook.com/DeanoTDF/
Ben and Robyn Reeve: www.ratherberidingmybike.com
Michael Leather: http://www.leatherstourdeforce.co.uk/rider-blogs/michael-leather/
And so to our final 3 stages!
We’re heading South now towards the Med – which MUST be downhill, right? Stage 21 is Marseille – and then we have the TGV journey up to the outskirts of Paris for the final Stage 21 onto the Champs Elysee. Stage 19 today is the longest stage of the tour – this Tour isn’t over yet! But Stage 20 sees a time trial in Marseille – a virtual ‘rest day’ that we could have done with in the first week to be honest! But it gives our riders a chance to relax and reflect on the incredible journey they are now reaching the end of.
Here’s what they look like:
19 Embrun-Salon de Provence, 220km
This is the longest stage of tour at 220km and that is only partly mitigated by the fact that it’s a significant net descent. This might not be the high Alps but it won’t feel like an easy stage! Embrun is above the stunning lake Serre Poncon and you’re heading for the equally stunning villages and small towns of Provence (think lavender, vinyards and market squares). This will be a super interesting stage to ride both from the perspective of an amateur cyclist enjoying perfect tarmac and sunny, hilly, French roads, and also from the perspective of a Tour de France fan, getting an insight into the intricacies of tour design and race tactics.
20 Marseille-Marseille, 23km
A short morning at a leisurely pace (Marseille city is not a place for racing) around the corniche road with a cheeky climb up to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde just so that you have to change gears! We’ll give you lunch after you’ve cycled and then we’ll be heading to the outskirts of Paris, ready for tomorrow’s grand finale.
21 Montgeron-Paris Champs Élysées, 105km
The last time there was a stage start in Montgeron was 1903 and there was a tiny crowd of 150-200 people to watch it: how things have changed! We’ll take a slightly different route from Montgeron to Paris, making up the distance with a detour to Versailles. Then we’ll rejoin the pro route at the Eiffel tower (for group photos) and up the Champs Elysees for one lap (not 10!) of the Paris circuit.