Stage 15: Laissac Sévérac l’Église to Le Puy-en-Velay

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 05:45. Transfer: 0h30. Start time: 07:30. Distance: 189.5km. Terrain: lumpy and volcanic. Climbs: two Cat 1, one Cat 3, one Cat 4. Finish: 19:00. Time in saddle: 9h00.

Suffer scores: John 6/10, Alex 5/10.

Local lowdown

Laissac Sévérac l’Église is a stronghold of mountain biking and this is the first time the Tour has been here. Time to break that stranglehold then, though since Christian Prudhomme (designer of the route) says that it will be “hard to tell in what state or shape the peloton will be at the end of this stage” I’m not sure what strength we will have left in order to do that. Tomorrow’s rest day should help us recharge the batteries though.

Tale from the Tour

I have now cycled in this area three times and this was by far the best ride I have had. The scenery was spectacular and I enjoyed the climbs. I can’t deny that the day started somewhat inauspiciously as I was feeling that this was going to be a bad day, until I realised that I was at risk of talking myself into that position. I was certainly very tired but that was no reason not to enjoy myself.

You can tell that a rest day was coming as the clean kit I had left was mismatched! It was the return of the “cycling bishop”, but mixed with TDF and Bigfoot kit!

Eclectic ecclesiastical

I was so tired that I felt that I could have done with receiving my resurrection body there and then, but that can wait until heaven. Having got through the day, I am sure that a day off will re-energise me.

So I succeeded in my main objective of getting through the day without falling apart. This was not true of all my kit. Cleats were worn but I have replaced them, brake pads won’t last another week but I have spares that I can fit and annoyingly the Garmin refused to take a charge last night and so died half way round. I think it must have been a dodgy connection as all seems OK now. So the wheels haven’t come off my ride and we have now completed two weeks. Paris is not quite in view yet as we still have the Alps to go, but four out of five mountain ranges have been ticked off.

The ride today started with a gradual lead into the first climb, a 10km Cat 1.  This was a steady 7% all the way up so it was easy to get into a rhythm. The main issue was the amount of loose gravel that has recently been laid on the climb and on part of the subsequent descent. That’s not very pleasant and next week the pros will be racing here! Maybe the course will have been swept or something by then.

On the way to the first climb

We were then into moorland between the first and second feed stops which I did on my own as I was unable to stay with my group on the descent and in the wet. This didn’t bother me because I was happy tapping out the kms and knew we would catch up at lunch. Sometimes you feel isolated, but you are never more than a few minutes away from someone else if you don’t want to be alone.

At last! Where have you been all tour my friend!

While having lunch there was a very heavy downpour. By the time that was over, we were all ready to roll again and it stayed largely dry for the rest of the day.

Heading to the foot of the last Cat 1 climb
A close up for the rocky types (Babs – that’s you that is!)

The final Cat 1 climb was another 10km ascent, but with one steep section in the middle at around 14% average. Though I was tired and my brain was saying “sleep”, my legs have been well trained over the last few months and were saying “climb”.  The legs won and with that the hard work was done for the day, though there were a few energy sapping bumps to come.

The final approach to the end afforded some amazing views too.

Our first view of Le-Puy-en-Velay, our home for the next two nights

Because of the position of this ride in the race, I went for a higher score than I might otherwise have given it. We are both tired, though I don’t think Alex was quite as tired as me, and my day did improve.


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