Last weekend marked the finale of the 5 day Tour Méditerranéen professional bike race here in France. It was one of the first races of the 2011 season, and, as it so happened, several stages of the race were very close to our house in Auriol. We had been counting down the days to this Tour, however, we had a bit of bad luck with timing. For the first there days of the Tour the boys were in school, and we also had a visit from the French Flu à chez Flanagan. When the flu comes knocking...don't open the door! There was nothing, however, that was going to keep us from going to Mont Faron on Sunday to catch the first mountain top finish of the 2011 Pro tour.
View from Mont Faron down to Toulon
Toulon is about 45 minutes from our house. It is a beautiful port city on the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, the only thing Mediterranean about the day was the proximity of the race to the sea, otherwise, it was pretty cold and cloudy. Since both Liam and I were getting over the flu, we decided to leave the bikes at home. Normally, we would ride the climb a few hours before the race. This has been our tradition for the past few years, and I don't think we will be leaving our bikes at home in the future. One of Liam's teammates, Emeric, did ride the mountain and we were able to be there to cheer him on. We got a shot of him coming by at the beginning of the video.
The whole family is back in the action for the 2011 season
Even though the weather was bad the mountain was still beautiful. At 5 km, Mont Faron is not a long climb, however, its 10% to 12% grade makes it extremely difficult. In fact, because of its difficulty the last 5 km would decide the general classification of the entire Tour! The climb also came at the end of a 100 mile day which makes it all the more difficult! There was no hiding on the mountain. The strong men were going to come to the front. We had a great spot about 1 km from the finish to see the riders come by. The surprise of the day would have to be 23 year old, American Andrew Talansky's 4th place effort. This young American, in his first professional race, was able to excel on a mountain against some very good climbers. His 4th place on the day also earned him 4th place in the general classification of the Tour. Another stand out was young American Peter Stetina who finished 25th on the day and 24th overall in the Tour.
Impressive Pro debut for 23 yr old American Andrew Talansky 4th overall!
American Peter Stetina also 23 years old was 24th overall!
Frenchman David Moncoutie won the race for the second year in a row, fellow countryman Jean-Christophe Peraud --who lead the race until the final kilometer -- was second, and Dutchman Wout Poels was third. Thomas Voeckler, the current French National Champion, finished 6th; and the mentor of our cycle club, Rémi Pauriol, finished 11th and won the King of the Mountains Jersey!
Our Club mentor, Rémi Pauriol, on the way to winning the King of the Mountains Jersey!
We were also able to see Canadian Michael Barry on the climb. Michael who is better known for his super support roles on his teams finished 62nd overall, and he was looking very strong on the climb. Although we have never met Michael in person, we are big fans of his work ethic and his entire family's approach to cycling.
Michael Barry laying it down on the climb!
For us, it was another great day of following professional cycling. Though, in the future, we will not be leaving our bikes at home!
Just a side note --- What is the deal with Lucca, Italy? It seems that everyday we hear about a young talented rider that is moving to this Tuscan town. Andrew Talansky, Taylor Phinney, and Ben King just to name a few. From Wikipedia we discovered it has a rich history, but what about the riding? It is about 5 hours from the house...another thing to put on the list!!!
This is Bill and Liam signing out.
Livestrong, Train Safe, and Live Well!!!