Camper vans ring the Lake, disco pumps, picnics are being set up, the L’Equipe vans are doing good business selling tee-shirts; it’s going to be a 40 kilometre party.
Beep, beep, beep, beep beeeep!
We’re off, the prized “contre la montre” sticker is on the windscreen, Martin is pumped, the Nikon is on my lap and the Garmin team car fills the windscreen – Tyler Farrar has another day at the office; and Pez is right there.
Lakeside to start, 48 kph – the two VIP cars hog the best spots, but they’ll get bored – we’ve done this before.
A drag, Tyler is out of the saddle, 36 kph – the Big Guns won’t miss a beat up this; 56 kph off the top.
He’s rolling a big one, but he won’t be flat out today, just getting round with a respectable time.
Long straights as the first five kilometres go in; there’s a stiff breeze on Tyler’s right shoulder.
The VIP’s let us up; “thank’s guys!” they’re having fun and taking a whole lot of pics.
Camper vans start to appear, by the hundred, as Tyler strokes it at 48 kph steady – and there’s 25 K to go.
Our boy doesn’t like those drags, out of the saddle, stabbing at the pedals
The bottom end of the Lac; time check, six seconds off the pace at 21:32.
The road is narrower and the VIP’s ease back to let us shoot, he’s 50+ kph again as the road weaves along the lakeside.
He looks like he’s enjoying this part – but there’s a big surprise, not far away.
But not yet, hundreds of campers, flags, noise – he freewheels, drinks, wipes his hand on his skin suit.
Here’s the surprise – the col, he’s out of the tuck, out of the saddle, sits down, grips the arm rests, 27 kph, back in the tuck, 40 kph, but it kicks again and we’re below 20 kph as he settles into a rhythm.
The VIP’s take pictures of each other as Tyler grinds it out at 24 kph.
“Farrar!” come the shouts through our windows as the pain continues – up, up, up.
We’re near the top and his legs are burning – 14 kph, ouch!
The worst is over, he tucks but there’s another kick and he’s back below 20 kph; but there’s the summit.
“Seat belt ON!” time as we begin the drop back to the lake – 69 kph, then it’s 76 kph; a sweeping left, he looks like something from a video game – whooooooosh ! – as the little Citroen gets dropped by a guy on a bicycle.
It’s 80+ kph at seven to go, six to go comes what seems like seconds later, then five, the cars can’t live with him, four and we’re nearly lakeside.
Three K to go, rolling the big one, two K and the crowds are huge.
Flame rouge and it’s a tunnel, trees, fans and tarmac as those big thighs pump for the line.
it’s the deviation for us, then meet our man at the bus.
A fan jokes; “you goin’ for that lanterne rouge spot, Tyler?”
Tyler laughs; “I’m getting disturbingly close, aren’t I?”
He tells us about his morning behind his desk; “There wasn’t a lot of wind, the trees and crowd provided shelter. The descent was fun – it’s always good to go fast. Part of the job is to be able to tell the other guys about conditions, Bradley has a really good shot at it today, sure there’s a climb, but it’s not like it’s 15 K long. The specialist will maybe lose a little time up there; but they’ll more than compensate for that on the fast parts along the lake. It’s a good course for Brad, he’s climbing so well just now. I was 85/90% today – just getting round. Paris? Yeah that’s my goal, get through the remaining days then see what we can do in Paris!”
And another day at the office ends for the likeable American.
With thanks to Marya and Tyler and ‘bon chance pour Le Champs Elysйes, Ty-lerr.”
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