Yesterday, Monday 31st July, saw our heroic cycle team take on Stage 2 of the Trois Etapes.
Total Distance: 109 km (see map above)
Total Net Height Gained: 3,552 m (see graphic below)
Feared by amateur riders as well as professionals, this formidable section of the Alps is picturesque and typical of the postcard images of the world famous French Alps. Its beauty is matched by the arduous climbs, inhospitable terrain and numerous twists and turns which the Trois Etapes Teams had to conquer.
This infamous Alpine region of south-eastern France is synonymous with steep slopes and is known as a particularly challenging cycle route.
Setting out from Orelle, the teams cycled about 27km to a point known as Col du Telegraph. By this point, our team will had climbed to a staggering height of 1,566m. From there, the cyclists endured an energy-sapping climb, this time to the peak of Col de Galibier. The record time for completing this climb is 24 mins 50 secs, which is a phenomenal statistic, bearing in mind the consistent gradient of this section. Click here to watch Mark Beaumont discuss the completion of this section of the race, as he stands at an altitude of 2,556 m, the highest point on the Trois Etapes.
Cyclists were then treated to a unique ride through the tunnel at Galibier, which marks the start of a much needed downhill section. Click here to see our team’s first person perspective of their emergence out of the tunnel.
This downhill section lasts for nearly 45km and provided a certain amount of respite for the competitors and they reached Le Freney d’Oisans, the location of their hard-earned rest stop.
The world-famous Alpe d’Huez stage is where Trois Etapes Lead Professional and former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre secured the yellow jersey in 2008 and it is one of the most challenging periods of the race and you can watch Mark Beaumont, Walking With The Wounded’s Cycle Captain, discuss the team spirit which enabled the Walking With The Wounded Trois Etapes Team to overcome the relentless gradient and climb to an altitude of 1,850 m.
Mark Beaumont commented, “the climb felt never-ending and the thighs were really burning. It was a sterling effort from all the boys and it was genuinely a collective effort – a perfect of example of team cycling. Everyone dug in and battled their own personal fatigue but had a extra few per cent to be able to encourage team mates. It was a fantastic feeling to reach the top of Alpe d’Huez, which is renowned as a really tough Alpine section”.
The team currently sits in 5th overall place, neatly situated in the middle of the pack, which may prove a wonderful tactical decision by the team management as they go into Stage 3, the final chapter in this magnificent race.
Fergus Williams, Operations Director of Walking With The Wounded, said that he was immensely proud of the team: “It’s great to see these guys overcome injuries in this way. This is a huge ordeal for anyone to put one’s body through – this team has done it in spite of the serious injuries they endured. Inspirational.”
For a preview of Stage 3, please click here.