Thursday, July 14, 2005

Alps Trip Day 8 - Le Monetier-les-Bains to Champlas du Col

This morning started well with a nice breakfast at the gite followed by an equally nice descent into Briançon. I got to the starting point of the Tour de France well before the action kicked off. The Caravan was all lined up, all the staff enjoying a moment of relaxation before the hectic day ahead. As with the day before the crowds had come well in advance of the action to ensure a place. The action was in two places; the podium where each rider who wished to participate in the day's stage had to sign-in, and the starting line. The starting line was in fact the fictive one, just for the crowds, the one where racing began was a few kilometres away.

Unlike the day before I managed to get some good shots. What really made my morning was snapping Armstrong, something that I didn't have another chance to do after this.

After the riders had left my special Tour de France was over. I was left feeling a little empty, what to do now? The holiday wasn't over, I still had several days left but my prime objective had been achieved. My knees were hurting again, which didn't give me a great sense of desire to continue. But continue I did, after having lunch in Briançon.

I aimed for Italy in a non direct way. I avoided going over the Col de Montgenève because I was told that there were a lot of road works on the way up. Where I was aiming for was just on the other side of that col so it was quite a detour. From Briançon I went up the valley of the Pré, which was absolutely lovely. At Nevache I went over the col d'Echelle and dropped down into Italy at Bardonecchia. It was pretty much a slog from there to where I stayed the night, in Champlas du Col, on the road to Sestrière. I found a hotel run by a rather dour elderly man and his wife. The hotel was called the Albergo del Centro, which was bit rich as the village had no more than 30 houses. Its 1/2 pension was reasonable value at 55 euros.

Distance - 93km
Time - 5:55
Max Altitude - 1778m
Tot. Ascent - 1437m

Col de l’Echelle – 1766m

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