The TOUR 21 week 3. The final push to Paris. From Doug

The TOUR 21 week 3. The final push to Paris. From Doug

Starting with a very welcome rest day in the beautiful but roasting medieval city of Carcassonne. The ride into the city the day before was like riding into a hairdryer as temperatures exceeded 43°c. The rest day itself involves little more than a longer than usual massage on very tired legs, a brief sojourn into the walled city for lunch (pizza) and sleep.


Our man Doug Robertson heading for Carcasson in the 2022 Tour21, raising funds for Cureleukaemia

Tuesday - the start of 3 big days in the mighty Pyrenees. Technically just a ‘billy’ rather than ‘mountain’ day today. But my word what ‘hills’. The 11 Port de Lers- a really beautiful but punishing climb. The descent is a stark reminder of the need for care as we lose a rider to over exuberant riding with a broken collarbone in someway a lucky escape. This is followed by The Mur (wall) de Péguère. The mur really does earn its name with monster gradients in the final 4km well in excess of 16% for long stretches.

Wednesday - The first of the 2 full ‘mountain’ days in the Pyrenees. Increasingly I’m struggling to keep Breakfast down and I end up horribly under fuelled for the first big climb of the day (Col d’Aspin) and suffer more than any session of the tour so far. Shovel as much in at the pit stop as I can and feel much better going over Horquette d’Ancizan - a stunning winding climb through wonderful Pyrenean forests and parkland. Then onto two big back to back 1st category climbs - the Col de Val Louron-Azet and then the mighty climb to the ski resort of Peyragudes culminating on the 16% slopes of the airfield made famous by 007 in tomorrow never days. Very very tired now and the biggest mountain test of the Pyrenees is now imminent…

Thursday - a quick look at the profile of today’s stage makes for tough reading. Over 4,000m of climbing with 3 huge climbs on the menu culminating in the mighty Hautacam - scene of many a famous clash of Tours past. I go huge on breakfast and on bike fuelling. Determined not to make the mistakes of yesterday. With this being the last of the big mountain days, I push myself in the climbs and have a wonderful day with the team and enjoying the majesty of a region arguably more authentically beautiful than the alps. Col d’Aubisque is a true stunner of a climb. Wonderful hairpins and views round every corner. I will be back here in the future for sure to ride at leisure and, hopefully, in slightly lower temperatures. As I weave up the mighty last mountain, the Hautacam, I’m pushing hard but also reflecting on the privilege of being fit enough and having the support to allow me to do this event. I crest the summit and finish line and allow myself a moment of solitude with the views to really try and soak up what we have achieved as a team and how close we now are to finishing this event. 3 more stages to go. We ride the shirt roll back to Lourdes where we are staying together as a team - spirits high and a job well done.

Friday - a very long hot transition stage. 192kms of group riding on long, straight hot roads with not much to see. Mentally these kind of days have been the hardest. Staying focussed so as not to end your own or anyone else’s tour with a silly mistake, clipping a wheel. Lunch was in a beautiful riverside spot. Other than that not much to say on this day other than pleased to get it ticked off with the role into Cahors - which upon arrival has a lovely blues festival just getting going. Another town I’d like to return to in the future.

Saturday - a very short 40kms (a time trial for the real race in a week’s time). Lovely, nearly done, atmosphere in the team. We ride as a group until the foot of the short final climb up the stunning cliff side town of Rocamadour - yet another stunning town I’d love to return to. A little race with ride captain Steve up the final climb - he beats me just as the gradient smooths out at the top. A fun way to conclude the last bit of open road riding. Ice cream and coffee at the end before commencing the 7 hour transfer to Paris for the final stage and celebrations.

Saturday evening - a quick hello to my parents who have made the journey to Paris to celebrate the final stage and finish. Then a final riders/crew only dinner where some lovely reflections and final words are shared. A few after dinner drinks with my parents and then bed ahead of the final 100kms or so around Paris in the morning.

Doug and the rest of team Tour21 escorted around the Arc de Triomphe on the final stage of The Tour21 to raise £1,000,000 for CureLeukaemia

Sunday - a late start to allow a lie in and for friends and family to wave us off. Today the French ISE team of outriders really earn their stripes stopping the crazy Parisian traffic for us. A quick highlights tour of Paris including Versailles and culminating on a wonderfully cleared lap of the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe. Finally a lovely finish line right in front of the famous Eiffel Tower. Much champagne, many tears and hugs. A great dinner in the evening with wonderful photos and videos shared throughout the night. A fabulous, painful, joyous and unforgettable 3 weeks but now I’m ready to be home with my young family and wonderful, long suffering wife.

Doug arrives in Paris after completing all 21 stages of the Tour de France to raise funds for CureLeukaemia


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