The Chase

Stage 11 - Pau to Cauterets Vallee De Saint Savin - Pyrenees

Stage 10 was huge and to maintain the same momentum in Stage 11 was going to be difficult. How often would you have someone like Chris Froome read your blog about what it takes to chase Le Tour. Honestly, I was grinning ear to ear as I was driving home last night. You couldn't wipe that smile of my face even if you tried. 

This does mean that I can no longer use being tired as an excuse for sloppy grammar or spelling mistakes. It's surprising even the likes of Caley Fretz from Velonews reading what I write. The reason why I chose to write this time round was I felt I was deviating away from how I photographed my first grand tour. For me photographing grand tours on my own often leads to experiences which I feel needs to be shared. It is those experiences why I embarked on a huge lifestyle change as well.

These grand tour adventures have led to some unique experiences. For example, I met Caley Fretz during the 2011 Giro d'Italia during the boat ride to Sicily. When you push yourself into the unknown you do end meeting a lot of like minded individuals. This is one of the reasons why coming to Europe and photographing grand tours is something I can't stop doing.

This morning when I was chatting with Jim and Iri from Brakethrough Media about Tourmalet, our conversation deviated to Caley. We might do something interesting between the three brands (O-NEV/Brakethrough/Velonews) next week, lips are sealed for now. 

For today's stage I was rather well prepared, I knew exactly what roads to take and the usual time and distance calculations were rather trivial. I was looking forward to the stage as it was going to be my opportunity to finally photograph Col Du Tourmalet.  I had to keep my expectations in check because it won't be the same chaotic fun from Stage 10 which i had experienced with the Basque fans. 

Even though there was a large amount of people gathered on Tourmalet, it didn't compare to what i had experienced yesterday. Any cycling fan who wants to experience Tour de France then you need to be with Basque fans. It is an unforgettable experience.

I digressed, going back to today's plan, well when I had left the start and was driving through the centre of Pau, there was a stone bridge spanning across. I thought "WOW!!!" and I couldn't stop in time thus breaking Tim De Waele's golden rule again.  Che Cazzo!!!!! 

I kept driving and arrived at the Cat 3 climb, hoping it would be brilliant so that I could redeem myself but I couldn't. It was terrible and I kept driving and by the time I knew it I was on my way to Cat 4. I fell asleep again !!!!  

My panic status was elevated to DEFCON 1.. For a minute I thought I will end up taking the long way to Tourmalet but my saviour was around the corner  - narrow back roads!!!!  These back roads were the sort of roads you wish you had in Melbourne for riding. Short sharp pinchy climbs and windy turns perfect for me to  build that explosive power so that I can dish out pain against those pesky 12 year old kids at Sandown criterium this coming summer. 

Suffice to say I did make it to Tourmalet. Tourmalet is one of those mountains you need to add to your bucket list. The backside of the mountain which is the side the peloton descended upon was spectacular.  It was a pity I didn't choose to photograph the descent.

After the stage had finished, I headed towards Capvern which is where my hotel was for the night. Arriving at the hotel, I was greeted by an older French woman who didn't speak English so she called someone else. The minute this French gentleman looked at me he started getting hysterical. I was wondering what was he going on about so I asked him if he spoke English. He was hysterical because he was excited to see me as he had seen me running up and down Tourmalet like a mad-man. To add he was blessed to have someone from Le Tour stay at his hotel for the night. It's definitely a small world!!! 

p.s Mr Froome apologies for the late blog update, I know you haven't gone to bed just yet. 



by Veeral Patel