THE STORY

ETAPE 2013 – Annecy to Semnoz

 

In the early morning of 7th July, nearly 11,500 cyclists converged on the north shore of Lake Annecy

to tackle a stage of the Tour de France. It was the beginning of one of the nicest Etape du Tours ever –

the route was beautiful, the weather was sunny and the logistics were more straightforward than ever before.

The day finished in the beautiful town of Annecy, where it started!

 

One by one the starting pens were filled

Then the waiting – patience – anxiety -  relaxation!

The countdown continued – we moved forwards towards the starting arch!

We were off! Riding at speed along the beautiful shores of Lake Annecy – without the usual busy traffic!

All too soon we left the lakeside road and were off towards the hills!

The beautifully winding road rose for the next 15km by around 500m to the peak near the water stop at  la Chapelle Saint Maurice,

after which we mysteriously descended to Col de Leschaux.

The route then rose and descended through a series of sweeping bends to La Motte de Bauges

A local musician entertained us as we rode by

Mountains loomed ahead as we approached Col de Pres

 

The long train of cyclists rose towards Col de Pres

Col de Pres was our first climb real mountain climb, rising continuously for 3 or 4 km,

 and taking us to over 1000 metres,

before an exciting descent to the foot of the second mountain, Le Revard.

 

The climb to Col de Revard was our first really serious test.

With temperatures of around 32 degrees the climb was a real test of pacing.

 Though it was not desperately steep, a 16km long climb was quite something!

Though most people probably did not notice it, the view from the Col de Revard, over Lake Bourget from nearly 1500 metres up was terrific!

After the pain of the ascent, the joy was in the descent!

We enjoyed 1000 metres of descent along winding mountain roads,

 and the thrill of navigating those bends!

 

 

An undulating route followed, unexpectedly punctuated by a Pont de l’Abime, a bridge over a spectacular river gorge,

 crossing the river which is nearly 100 metres below.

 

The feed station at Gruffy really did the organisers credit, with a plentiful supply of water and food –

the water especially being much needed with temperatures up to 34 degrees and a horrendous climb ahead of us!

So the climb up Semnoz began. The section before Quintel is reputedly fairly easy,

though my gradient meter increased from 9% to 10%, then 11%...12%... peaking at 15% before dropping to 14% again!

In the heat, as the climb went on, the sections over 10% became more and more difficult as we headed upwards towards 1600 metres.

Eventually more and more riders were pushing their bikes, or stopping by the roadside to rest.

Even at the 1km to go marker, not everyone felt ready for a sprint to the finish, such were the heat and the gradients

 

Then – finally – the long hoped for finishing arch! Success!

Of the 11,475 starters, 10,624 completed the course.

Time, at last, to relax and enjoy the view from the top of Semnoz!