‘Beyond Honest’

Stage 12 195km Lannemazen to Plateau de Beille

This was ‘The’ Pyrenean stage, 4 classic cols finishing on the beautiful yet savage Hor Cat Plateau de Beille, a 16km monster that ramps at 10-12% for long pitches.

The stage started with a grippy 45km before the first serious ascent, the Col de Portet d’Aspet, a very steep 5km climb. It was a sobering moment as we were reminded of Fabio Casartelli the Italian cyclist and Olympic gold medalist who died in a crash on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet, 18th July 1995 during the 15th stage of the Tour de France. There is a monument and we stopped briefly as a team to pay our respects before continuing up the 17% gradient.


Over the beautiful Col de la Core to our lunch stop at 120km. Salade gezier, (gizzards) followed by confit Duck, chips and ratatouille consumed at 42c it certainly was indegestion waiting to happen .. 

Here we were treated with the news that some locals had sprinkled tacks on the descent of the Col de Lers in advance of the tour so the police had shut the road. Our only option was over a similar climb, the Col de Port, and join the route again after the descent before tackling the final tough 16km climb up to 1780m which took our total elevation for the day to 4204m.


A few of you have asked about the classification of the climbs in the Tour. This relates to old French banger of a car (Citroen 2CV per chance?). If the old 35 horsepower car could make it up the climb in 4th gear, it was category 4 climb. If it could get up in 3rd gear, it was category 3 and so on up to 1st gear. If it couldn’t get up the climb it was a hors d’category i.e. without category.

Not sure how much truth there is in this story!

These days, believe it or not the way a climb is categorised is not much more scientific. There are some general guidelines used:

Hors Category (HC) – the hardest, climbs of 1500m and above (4,900 feet)
1st Category – climbs of 1100-1500m (3,600-4,900 feet)
2nd Category – climbs of 600-1100m (1,970-3,600 feet)
3rd Category – climbs of 300-600m (985-1,970 feet)
4th Category – the lowest category, climbs of 100-300m (328-985 feet)

Within a major pro-cycling event, such as the Tour de France, there is a degree of subjectivity on the classification of climbs. For example, if a category 2 climb comes towards the end of a tough stage it may be increased to a category 1 climb.

I always joke about ‘honest efforts on the bike’ but this was ‘beyond honest’. If Carlsberg did days on the bike, yep, you get the idea….

Anyway, It’s 11pm and we have just pulled into Tolouse, alarm set for 6am and we go again…. Tough gig!

~ by theboxterboy on July 15, 2015.

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