Vive Le Tour!
Part of Etxeondo’s history is written in French, caressed by the most beautiful mountain passes in Europe and to the sound of the Tour de France. Anecdotes inside and outside a race that for years has been considered a mecca of world cycling. From 1983, with Ángel Arroyo to 2001 with Roberto Laiseka, passing through Perico Delgado, Haimar Zubeldia and the historic adventure with Tom Doumolin, the ‘allez, allez’ has always been present within the four walls of the Basque company.
A few kilometres from the mountain pass, Cycles Arbes, a leading cycling equipment shop since 1983, was dressed up for the Tour de France. The occasion deserved it, Lourdes was the starting point of the 18th stage. A historical review and a well cared exhibition to celebrate that the Tour is making its mark in the French town.
But the best tribute to the cycling event is always done on pedals and, of course, it was time for a stage reconnaissance. Recharging point (or not) at the top of Spandelles and to continue to Hautacam. The 8% gradients that make up the more than 10 km of the pass barely allowed us to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, both for the views and for the demanding nature of the section. The photos remained in the retina… and in the hands of the photographer, who decided to go up enjoying each of the curves that drew the beautiful pass. “The ‘Hors Categorie’ classification falls short”, one might think… Team photo, caffeine and to continue enjoying.
A day later, it was the turn of those who reached Spandelles at an average of 21 km/hour. No one dared to look at the temperature on their mobile phone, but the thermometer would not go below 35ºC. A few caps among the txikis around the tent were a kind of salvation. Several cyclists approached the tent to talk about the mountain passes, catch up and take a breath of fresh air as refreshments. The cycling community doesn’t understand colours, “this sport gives me life, not football! A pity (or was it?) about the coverage, which didn’t allow us to know who was attacking or who was capable of attacking as we passed. It would be a surprise, but no one was taken by surprise. Cheering from first to last, what they were doing was a feat. And what lay ahead of them, too.
After starting to fold up the tent and pack up the camp, my head was already starting to think about the 2023 Tour de France. “Savour the present” they say, yes, but the desire always gives you the wings to imagine where you’ll be next year. Just like life. Vive Le Tour!