You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

THE PYRENEES

The Tour de France goes climbing.

Story by STRAVA July 17th, 2015

the pyrenees in a word: froome.

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.

tour-9.jpg

another word: crazy.

There’s a fine line between awesome fans and not so awesome. I think it’s fair to say that the crowd collected right before the barriers in the waning moments of Stage 10 crossed over that fine line and turned the race into their own personal block party. At some points it was great, but when the leaders came through, it was way, way too much. I hope we don’t see any crashes from something like this - it would be such a disappointment to see climbs lined with barriers from start to finish.
tour-35.jpg

the madness.

tour-15.jpg
tour-17.jpg
tour-20.jpg
tour-25.jpg
tour-32.jpg

wide open spaces.

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.

tour-6.jpg
tour-8.jpg
tour-12.jpg
tour-21.jpg
tour-29.jpg

To summarize.

Chris Froome, alone, and on the rampage. Is there anything or anyone that can keep him from a second Tour title?

tour-4.jpg

break from racing.

There’s so much more to enjoy than just the race - just look to the side of the road.

tour-39.jpg
tour-40.jpg
tour-37.jpg
tour-41.jpg

Col d'aspin.

What a climb! We were blown away by this one, and it is firmly on the to do list.

tour-45.jpg
tour-50.jpg
tour-43.jpg
tour-46.jpg
tour-44.jpg
tour-49.jpg
tour-51.jpg

up next: the descent.

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!

tour-42.jpg

the favorites.

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.

tour-57.jpg

louis meintjes.

tour-58.jpg
tour-59.jpg

dreamscape.

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.

tour-65.jpg

fans on a hot day.

Seen on the road up to Plateau de Beille. It was hot.

tour-68.jpg
tour-69.jpg
tour-71.jpg
tour-72.jpg
tour-73.jpg
tour-74.jpg
tour-75.jpg
tour-76.jpg

where did the heat go?

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.

tour-85.jpg

team sky: dominant.

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.

tour-114.jpg

happy man.

Joaquim Rodriguez soaks in the moment (and the rain), as he takes his second victory in this year’s Tour.

tour-97.jpg

crossing the line.

tour-99.jpg
tour-101.jpg

finish line scenes.

tour-77.jpg
tour-106.jpg
tour-79.jpg
tour-107.jpg
tour-109.jpg
tour-112.jpg
tour-108.jpg
tour-113.jpg

back down the road.

The riders and groups trickled in for the better part of an hour - and the rain never let up.

tour-95.jpg

final switchback.

tour-121.jpg

the view from above.

tour-90.jpg
tour-91.jpg
tour-92.jpg
tour-94.jpg
tour-96.jpg

until next time!

tour-122.jpg
Join Strava