Luz St Sauveur to Bagneres de Luchon – 121 kms 4093 metres
Stage 4, what a day. The day we’ve all been fearing, Tourmelat was the name on everybody’s mind. There was a lot of apprehension about this climb being one of the most feared legs of the tour de France. There was no hanging around after breakfast and we pulled out of the hotel and hit the hills after about 100 meters. The climb was up to 2115m over 11 km with an average of 7.9% and a maximum of 10.2% near the summit. Each kilometre was marked by a sign showing the distance to the summit and the average gradient of the next kilometres. The climb was consistent and full on. There wasn’t any breathing space like you get on many of the climbs. It was just non stop pain.
However, when we got to the top everybody agreed that is wasn’t as hard as they had expected. We both arrived at the top together to be greeted by a IRB World of Rugby TV crew. We chilled at the top for a bit, took some video and hit the massive downhill. It was awesome, we blitzed it (Warren Smith 81.7kph, Simon Hunter 79.6kph).
The Col d’Aspin was next at 1489 m and 13 km. With an average gradient percentage of 5.1% it was relatively easy dropping into the Valee d’aure at Arreau. It wasn’t long before we hit the next climb, it was a big one. The Col Peyrsourdre is 5 km up to 1569 m with a steep 11.4% gradient! This stage is one of hardest of the Tours. We were told we would want to die! We climbed consistently and felt good about ourselves after this one however. Things are looking up. Got greeted by even more cow’s! The downhill was good but there was too much headwind to break our speed records.
We chilled at the bottom for lunch and some banter and then took off to hit the last climb. This climb wasn’t anything majorly talked about but it got us, it really kicked our asses and made us show massive respect. Wish we’d kept our mouths shut about Tourmelat. This was so hard, it was the hardest thing we’d done yet and it felt it by a long way. We knew by the time we’d get to the top of this we’d have climbed over 4,000m. We got there finally showing fatigue, but when we arrived we were stoked. On the downhill Simon Hunter topped the speed record for the tour with 82.6kph. Nice one Simon.
We still can’t believe the next 3 days are predicted to be as intense as they are but we’ve done alright so far. Legs aching. We ended at Bagneres du Luchon where the Rivers Ore and Pique join and where we happily settled in our villas half dead!