Etape 2005

C+ Deputy Editor Paul Vincent has just got back from France having ridden the Etape du Tour on Monda

How did you get on?
C+ Deputy Editor Paul Vincent has just got back from France having ridden the Etape du Tour on Monday. Having left his hotel at 5am to ride the 13 miles to the start, Paul managed to get round in 435th place, not bad considering he dropped his bottle with 25 miles to go on a day when 643 riders didn't finish because of the heat...
As always a huge number of C+ readers made the trip across the Channell to participate and we'll be something in the magazine in the post Tour issue giving their accounts of the day. If you'd like to see your tape tales in the magazine, get onto the forum and leave your messages here

To get your creative juices flowing, here's what Paul had to say about the day...

Day of the Etape
by Paul Vincent

"As we cycled from the hotel to the start, 20km from the hotel, at approximately 5.00am, I began to feel quite cold due to the omission of arm warmers - next time I need to remember to take old clothing to wear at the start then discard. Riding in darkness out to Mourenx added to the atmosphere.

"The race starts with the sound of cheers and clapping and a few minutes later our group roll away from the start. The sheer number of riders makes the first five miles quite sketchy - though there were no accidents until the descent of Col D'Ichere. This was the only accident that I saw though others were reported. The descent of the Col De Marie-Blanc was not the most technical so long as you gave plenty of consideration to looking ahead for riders taking the wrong line.

"I took on water at the base of the Marie-Blanc and had an attack of cramp that lost me five minutes to freewheeling. I got onto a few groups on the long, relentless section at the foot of the Aubisque and felt good all the way up using the 25t cog (I could have used a 27 but it was only an issue near the summit where the heat was just starting to take effect).

"The descent off the Aubisque was quite technical but the leading riders took the guesswork out of cornering on the limit. I cramped again on the little rise to the Col Du Soulor but kept pedalling. The descent off the Soulor was fast and strangely awesome and the views down the valley were a constant reminder that a mistake could be fatal. Thankfully there were no bad moments and a wirey Frenchman with a perma-tan was the only rider in contact with me having pulled away from a group who were later to overhaul me on the two little rises into Pau. I lost a bottle coming off the Soulor so only had a bottle of fizzy water for the flat 40k into Pau. I still managed to do a turn at the front of a small group of French riders but they managed to rip my legs off on the final two short climbs and as a result I lost contact with these riders and lost 60 places and a gold medal here.

"Consolation was the answer and I rolled into Pau relieved rather than exhausted from the day's ride. There was a distinct lack of tiredness in my legs - I think a lack of miles was largely responsible for the cramps I suffered throughout the day. Having got back to the hotel we had a good dip and enjoyed fine food and wine - a perfect end to a very good day."

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