Thor de France

LOURDES, FRANCE

Yesterday I had a problem with a loose spoke on my rear wheel and the wheel was out of true. I blamed the wheel rubbing on the brake for my dragging up the Tourmalet and really suffering up that climb.

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We wanted to ride and to see a stage finish and by the time we got rolling, we knew our best course of action would be to ride out and back. We would have to keep an eye on the time to be back by the time they closed the roads at 2:00 p.m.

Team RadioShack Car in Lourdes

A real surprise to us occurred less than 10 km from Lourdes. We were on a flat part of the course when I spotted the tell tale signs of evil. Freshly painted on the asphalt was the Devil’s pitchfork (or trident). I looked up and saw him and stopped. Photo time.

Barry with the Devil (Didi Sefnt)

Many people come to the Tour and hope to see the Devil. Getting a picture is an extra bonus. I got a picture yesterday and now, another one. I wonder if he recognized me from yesterday? I told Adrian no matter what happened, I was happy. My day was complete. My Tour was complete.

The Devil (Didi Sefnt) with Adrian Register

We rode out to Argeles-Gazost where the road turned up. Steep, but this was not the climb up the Col du Soulor. We hit a plateau and went through a small town. I got laughing as I passed a house where some kids, probably ages 10-12, we’re yelling out “hello” to passing riders. They were practicing their English. So I greeted them with a cheery hello as well. And they were pleased.

Barn near Argeles-Gazost

We were watching the time and it was shortly after 1:00 when we turned up the climb to the Soulor which would lead to the Aubisque. If we continued we would be stuck in place so we decided to turn around and get back to Lourdes.

At the start of the climb up the Soulor

At Lourdes we were able to ride inside the barriers until the 1km flag. At that point the course was closed. We walked our bikes for the final kilometer but it was very slow going through the massive crowds. We found the team buses and our plan was to be at the chute where they pass through although we couldn’t get close to that.

Meanwhile, back in Lourdes, Adrian on a breakaway…

Back in town, we took up position on the barriers to watch the caravan go by. It was quite comical because seemingly anything thrown to a French kid would bounce off their hands and into mine. It helped growing up playing sports where we used our hands. And as I did last year during the Tour, anything I caught I handed it to a kid. I’m not a jerk. Usually.

The caravan coming through Lourdes

After watching the caravan go by we moved to the 1K “kite” (generally known globally by the French name, flamme rougue, or red flag). Here we could watch them fly by and watch the last few hundred meters of the race on TV.

The flame rougue two hours before the race in Lourdes

There were a number of Norwegians on our corner but Thor Hoshovld had to overtake two French riders to win. I knew the Norwegians would cheer when Thor made his break but it seemed like everyone was cheering when Thor went ahead with 2k to go.

When we saw Thor fly by, we made our way to the team buses to see most of the riders come back.

Big screen TV at 1km to go

It was a different way to see the tour but got us close to many riders. We heard Thor win but couldn’t see him. We were in the bus area where the riders would be going to their team buses.

Fränk Schleck

We ended up next to Leopard-Trek bus. We saw Fränk Schleck come out (or just before he went in) and sign some autographs.

And I got a picture with the Devil.

Leopard-Trek roster painted on the team bus
Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Oliver Zaugg, Bruno Pires
Jens Voigt, Dominic Klemme, Fabian Wegmann, Robert Wagner, Linus Gerdemann
,Davide Viganò, Daniele Bennati, Giacomo Nizzolo, Maxime Monfort, Wouter Weylandt
Jakob Fuglsang, Anders Lund, Martin Mortensen, Martin Pedersen, Brice Feillu
Will Clarke, Stuart O’Grady, Stefan Denifl, Tom Stamsnijder, Joost Posthuma
BOLD = Riders at the 2011 TdF

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