Words and Images: Jered and Ashley Gruber
All signs were there heading into the Tour’s first big appointment with the mountains. Froome looked confident, powerful, and at ease in everything tossed his way from the start in Utrecht to the echelons of the Netherlands to the cobbles to the storms to the TTT. It was hardly surprising then when the 2013 Tour de France winner dropped a giant bomb on the Tour on the first day in the mountains on the way to the mountaintop finish at La Pierre Saint-Martin.
Just a kilometer down from the block party, the road was open and peaceful and dotted with families enjoying cycling’s biggest race. Talk about contrasts. Speaking of contrasts: Tejay van Garderen has been splendid so far in this year’s Tour. He has made nary a misstep since the race’s beginning in Utrecht. His only mistake? Not being Chris Froome.
Chris Froome, alone, and on the rampage. Is there anything or anyone that can keep him from a second Tour title?
There’s so much more to enjoy than just the race - just look to the side of the road.
What a climb! We were blown away by this one, and it is firmly on the to do list.
The descent off the Tourmalet is FAST. I saw reports of numerous riders hitting well over 100 kph - and then cattle started crossing the road!
Well behind the lone leader, Rafal Majka, the group of favorites with Team Sky and Chris Froome firmly in control, rocket down the opening part of the long, fantastic descent of the Tourmalet.
If there’s one thing that gets me dreaming - it’s a shot like this. It’s so easy to imagine myself swooping through those turns laughing all the way down, chasing the wheels of my friends, ecstatic just being alive. I can’t wait to get back to riding bikes once the Tour de France is over. Until then, I’ll think about this shot.
Seen on the road up to Plateau de Beille. It was hot.
Fast forward a couple hours, and the heat headed off into Spain, and instead, racers and fans alike were treated to a booming thunder/hail/rainstorm. First to the line? Joaquim Rodriguez.
A fair ways behind Rodriguez, Team Sky strangled the group of favorites. Attacks flew from some of the sport’s best climbers: Contador, Valverde, Nibali, Quintana - and Froome didn’t even need to respond. It was Porte and Thomas who merely notched the pace a little bit higher and brought back each move. It must have been hard to swallow to make such big efforts and not even draw out the yellow jersey.
Joaquim Rodriguez soaks in the moment (and the rain), as he takes his second victory in this year’s Tour.
The riders and groups trickled in for the better part of an hour - and the rain never let up.