Burning Ears

20 Jul

There was a lively discussion between the DS and myself over a glass of rose in the tent on the Tourmalet last night following Nicolas Roche’s disappointing 37th place finish in Stage 15 to Bagneres de Luchon.

It was one of those conversations where both participants are getting more and more wound up while completely agreeing with each other.

Suffice it to say, John Gadret’s ears will have been burning after it following his speculative little attack on the Port de Bales climb at just the moment that he should have been helping pace Roche back to the group after his team leader’s puncture.

There was much speculation in Camp Poursuivants about Gadret’s motives for his apparent selfishness. Maybe he’s off to a new team next year, maybe he just doesn’t get on with Roche or perhaps his ear piece ‘just fell out’?

Perhaps it was just blind ambition from a man 23rd overall and having a pretty good tour. Suffice it to say, we weren’t best pleased but it turned out to be just a footnote to a much greater controversy involving Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.

I was probably a little hot and bothered myself after climbing up that infernal Tourmalet. I’d been up the Aspin before it and stopped for a sandwich in Sainte Marie de Campan on the way back to the Tourmalet where I bumped into all manner of people including Cycling Ulster’s dynamic duo Tommy and Marian Lamb.

I chewed the fat for a while, took a snap at Eugene Christophe’s famous forge, filled my bottles and then could put off the inevitable no more. Off I toddled up the 17km to the top of the Pyrenees’s most famous and certainly one of its most arduous climbs.

It’s not outrageously steep, just bloody long and, having been up it from the other side a couple of years ago I know that you can’t go bald headed at it. I plodded all the way to the top past my tent then got my pic taken at the top by an Irish couple before whizzing back down to La Mongie to watch the stage on the big screen.

It was a bit of a stinger to have to climb a few kms back to the tent afterwards but I was fuelled by the anger that Roche must have felt to the power of ten so I made it back in double quick time.

Hope Nico can channel his rage into the pedals in a measured way during today’s epic…

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