Criterium du Dauphine Libere — Stage 4

Hauterives to Le Mont Ventoux

Are we still in the race?

Today was the epic finish up Le Mont Ventoux as the final climb. A hill top finish to shred the field into bits and pieces. I’ve ridden to about half way up this and used a 39×25 and suffered my ass off. I’ve never done the whole climb though. I can only imagine. The guys seem to float up this steep bitch of a hill. Even the sprinters seem to go at a pace that seems humane.

With the climb splitting up the peloton pretty much straight away, our riders were in various groups. Johan followed the front/main group that contained our leaders. So, Eki and I were responsible for the rest of the guys. So we would zip up the road, stop, get out, feed our guys and give them some encouragement as they passed by in small groups. At this late in the stage, a little sugar and caffeine is about all they need. In the form of a Coke. Just a little something to get them through the end of the this stage. We passed out many cokes and not just to our team. When riders are hurting or tired or hungry, you just help them regardless of team.

It is kind of nice that this is “ONLY” the Dauphine. Although a very important tune up race for the Tour de France, it still does not have the draw that you see like in the Tour. Climbing Ventoux, the crowds were there cheering their favorites. But the crowds were manageable. Not 3 or 4 deep like in the Tour. And not getting so close to the riders and thus not creating the “tunnel of spectators” you see in the Tour. Pretty respectable.

Eki and I pulled past the finish and took the team car deviation. The deviation was basically a dirt road that went around the top so we did not have to take the main road over the top. Every race has a team car deviation to eliminate cars in the way as riders finish.

We pulled next to Johan’s car as our riders were getting a warm jersey and vest and leg warmers for the ride down the back side of Ventoux. Team parking was at a minimum at the top and a bus would be way too much. And it would have a hard time getting down from the top with all the traffic. So, our bus waited for the riders near the bottom. After they rode down, they would get in the bus for the ride to the hotel. At least an hour from the Bottom of the hill to the hotel.

When all the riders had gotten warm clothing and had started down the hill, Johan and Chris did also in the team car. Followed shortly by Eki and I in the second car. Johan hit the turbo on the way down the hill. The cool/good thing is that no one is coming UP the hill. All the spectators are done watching the race are either walking down the hill to their car or riding bikes downhill. With all the traffic going the one way downhill, it was easy to use the whole road as we railed it down the hill. We were flying and going Mach 5. What’s going on? Are we still in the race?


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.