Stage 4: Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 07:15. Transfer: 1h00. Start time: 08:15. Distance: 207.5km. Terrain: largely flat, 1,440 metres climbing. Climbs: one Cat 4. Finish: 17:41 Time in saddle: 7h15.

Suffer scores: John 2/10, Alex 4/10

Local lowdown

The official Tour website to which I am indebted refers to this being a day dedicated to water. They mean the thermal baths which are common to this area, the start town of Mondorf-les-Bains being the first such place we visit. We’ve snuck back into Luxembourg for the start in fact, aiming for Vittel where there are yet more thermal baths. If you want to go in, don’t forget your little bathing cap and “claquettes” (flip flops). Vittel is also the home of the frog tart, but that had better not be on the menu – too small you see, not enough protein.

Tale from the Tour

The transfer happened before breakfast because quite honestly the hotel was a bit of a dump and could not provide sufficient for us in the morning. It did not even provide toilet paper which became an issue you don’t want to hear about.

On the major plus side, this meant that Franck Schleck joined us for breakfast at the start in Mondorf because he lives there and one of our riders is from Luxembourg and knows him! For those who don’t know, he rode the Tour 9 times.

“A few days into the Tour, at about the point where you are now, it gets worse and worse until it can’t get worse anymore because you are totally [expletive deleted].” Words of encouragement from Franck Schleck!
Franck came round and spoke to us all and was impressed by what we are doing, the money we are raising and the causes we are supporting, recognising that we are the privileged ones (himself included) who can afford to spend their time mucking around on bikes.

Today’s stage signed off by Franck

We asked Franck about his Tour hotel experiences and one of them was far worse than ours. He recounted the story of one hotel which was not ensuite (OK so not the end of the world perhaps) and going for a shower meant walking on a squelchy carpet. We feel less bad about last night now! And tonight we are in a really nice place just outside Vittel where we are also able to make a better job of washing and drying our kit so that we don’t get any sores.

Bungees and pegs – genius idea copied from Gary last year

The route today was unremarkable though there was more sign of Tour life and some pretty feed stops.

In Toul


The best thing about today’s ride was that seven of us continued where we left off yesterday and rode really well as a group. Each person did a 2km turn on the front in strict rotation and no-one was too shy to call out and reign someone in if they were getting too excited on the front.  This may not sound like much to a non-cyclist but when you are riding more than 200km it is a big deal. Andrew, who is using a power metre, tells me that he only had to work half as hard when he was on the back, so you can see the benefit. Consequently we don’t currently feel as bad as Franck suggested we might, but there’s still time I guess! And we finally started to see more decorations

Similar to Rob’s garage apparently

I found today easier than yesterday because of flat terrain and the teamwork. Alex was tiring at the end.

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