01 July 2011

Le Tour De France 2011: Mountains full of Hate

Suffering. Pain unlike anything you can imagine. For days and days. That's what it takes to win in the mountains, and ultimately take home the Yellow Jersey and stand triumphant in Paris.

So it seems that the organizers of Le Tour were frustrated with the 2010 route, which was the most brutal to date. They arranged the Pyrenees to truly select the best. What they got was a great dual between Contador and Schleck, but no winner. If not for a chain slip, the two riders matched each other blow for blow.

Seeing that, seeing neither crack, seeing the might of the mountains challenged and conquered, it seems the truly sadistic nature of the organizers has come out to play.

There are 6 days in the high mountains this year. That in itself isn't too out of the ordinary. The difference is, each of those 6 days includes multiple Category 1 or Hors Category climbs. Every major climb is in the list. This is like a super group of hate: Le col du Tourmalet, Le col d'Aubisque, Plateau de Beille, Col Agnel, Col d'Izoard, Col du Galibier, Col du Galibier (from the other side), and of course, Alpe d'Huez.

These mountains are brutal. It isn't just the incline, the altitude is usually over 1500 meters, with some reaching as high as 2800 meters. Stage 18 is just a route of hate:

For those who aren't aware, HC means beyond category. Mountains in cycling are rated by difficulty, 5 being the easiest down to 1 being the most difficult. HC, or Hors Category means the mountain is so difficult a climb it defies a rating. This is usually because of gradient, elevation and distance.

Stage 18 features 3 brutal HC climbs. But it also features the most dangerous aspect of the climb: the decent. Riders will attempt to make up lost time by speeding down the mountain, sometimes outrunning the motor bikes who have information and do camera work. These are old European rodes and most don't have guard rails. Yes, people have died going down these mountains to recklessly, most recently in the Giro D'Italia.

Who conqures these mountains in Le Tour De France 2011 wins the race. I think the TIme Trial may help to hold the victory, but the mountains will see who wins and who loses. Whose team holds strongest and legs have that extra kick to get to the finish first.

Frankly... I can't wait to watch this.

No comments:

Post a Comment