Had a really good sleep – maybe it’s the fresh mountain air. Took a walk up to the summit – they’re erecting a banner and barriers, and more and more people are arriving, including many on bikes. I looked up at the hill across the way and wondered if my eyes were failing – there was a light mist over everything. It turns out it wasn’t a mist – it’s very fine pollen from some of the trees and it was blowing almost sideways in the breeze. I guess Froome – and all the other ‘asthmatic’ riders – will be huffing on the puffers like mad today.
Colin got the flags up on the campervan and a couple more cars joined us. One of the dutchmen next to us went for a ride on his bike while the other two went for a walk. Colin and I ended up talking for quite awhile with a couple from Guernsey that recently retired and sold their house and are now travelling all over in a campervan.
We took Mo for a walk along one of the upper trails – it winds up fairly gently towards the west for quite awhile before it switches back and onwards and upwards to the east. Where it turns it opens up so you can see the whole valley below with the wonderful lush fields and small villages. You can also see the road that the racers will be on, and all of the campervans parked wherever possible.
Back at the campervan we had figured that we were about 100-150 metres from the summit of this, the second of three climbs in today’s race, and we are actually right at the 150 metre mark – they erected a sign right beside the campervan.
Still more people arriving all the time and one more car squished in beside us – I didn’t think there was room but she backed in with just enough room to be able to open the door and get out. The road is lined with fans on both sides from well below us to over the summit. The crowds are mostly all so nice – some are a bit ‘exuberant’ but still friendly – we’re all there for the same reason. Except for one Swiss woman – she was standing on the small wall across from the campervan and I had put my coat there to save my spot (we were the very first ones here, after all). When I went to take my spot she started going on and on in French to her partner, who was down at road level beside me. I did understand part of what she said so I looked up at her and the look on her face was just nasty – rather than respond in kind I chose to move further down the road, which turned out to have a better view anyway. Too bad some folks just can’t enjoy where they are and what they’re doing, but try as she did she couldn’t ruin my day.
The riders came into view shortly after we saw the heli’s and heard the crowds below us cheering. The first 10 or so were strung out in singles or 2 or 3 together, then the peloton arrived with Sky leading the train.
Froome was in the middle near the front with Dumoulin not far behind. One of the dutchmen had told us that Yates had cracked yesterday and Froome had broken away with 80 km to go – he couldn’t be caught and is now in the pink and almost assured of a win.
Poor Pinot was having a bad day and his whole team dropped back to help him, followed shortly by the sprinters as usual in one big bunch just trying to make it up the second to last climb of the entire 3 weeks. (We found out later that Pinot was admitted to hospital in the evening and treated for pneumonia)
When the last racer had passed we packed up and hit the road, having decided to get partway back to Papiano. We stopped at the fruit-farm near Cavour (where I had stayed for 9 days last year) and when I walked thru the courtyard to the washrooms I was met by the two little doggies – mama Maya and her baby Spreet. I asked where the big dog was and was very sad when told that he had passed away last year. They’re having some sort of dinner tonite – I estimate there were 80 or 90 people in attendance, including many children.