Stage 3: Verviers to Longwy

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 05:45. Transfer: 0h30. Start time: 08:00. Distance: 212.5km. Terrain: typical Ardennes (=lumpy, 2,763 metres). Climbs: two Cat 3, three Cat 4. Finish: 18:59. Time in saddle: 8h15.

Suffer scores: John 3/10, Alex 4/10

Local lowdown

We start in Belgium and spend the best part of the day riding through Luxembourg – from top to bottom in fact and then out the other side. We end up in Longwy and our first sight of French tarmac. Longwy remained part of France in the 19th century when other parts of Alsace-Lorraine became part of the German Empire. No doubt the ramparts (now part of a UNESCO world heritage site) had something to do with that. Pottery is a big thing in Longwy, but I won’t be replacing my water bottles with anything ceramic.

Tale from the Tour

Dropping due south, we passed a sign saying 950 metres to the Grand Duchy but there was no actual sign to show when we had passed into Luxembourg. We knew that we had arrived when the car number plates change and the villages went from being a bit scruffy to neat and tidy. Also the drivers seemed more impatient. We knew when we had entered France when it got a bit industrial and tired-looking.

Probably Luxembourg
Definitely Luxembourg – at the feed stop in Troisvierges

After some fairly ordinary scenery, we had our best view as we were crossing a bridge and the shout went up to stop for photos.

Pining for Düsseldorf?
Pining for Liege?

The riding was great today, not just the scenery but a few of us have gelled really well as a group of riders and which makes all the difference.  Inevitably I struggle a bit on flats and descents because I have less raw power and ballast, but I make that up on climbs if needed. By and large though the rotation works well.

I raced to the top of the climb to be able to take this one

 

Group photo call. It’s not all about charging around as quickly as possible.

One thing that has been striking on the Tour to date is the almost complete absence of visible signs that it is happening! Sure, there were some painted bicycles and a few signs in Düsseldorf and Liege but it contrasts poorly with last year.  Admittedly that was in France, but Yorkshire put them to shame. They still have a week to go I suppose.

There were more signs of the Tour in Luxembourg and they all looked like this

Tonight we went to a Chinese restaurant for an “all you can eat” buffet. They are lucky that we are not too far into the Tour and have yet to properly dip into calorie deficit else we would have descended like a plague of locusts and probably bankrupted them!

A word on the suffer scores. Overall an easier day because of the lack of wind and great group work, though Alex found the climbing a little tougher.

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