Cycling time: 6:50
Totsl climbing: 3,850m
Top speed: 86kmh (Adam) 82kmh (Nick)
Mechanical failures: 2 (Nick, pedal, brakes)
Lunch: Sort (13:15-14:25)
Two big Hors Categorie (HC) cols today: Port de la Bonaigua (2072m), Port del Cantó (1720m), with around 42km of upward pedalling, and each requiring over 1000m of climbing.
A murky start in Vielha and a slow trundle up the valley of the Garonne river as we ate into the first metres of height gain needed to scale Bonaigua. We witnessed the devastation wrought all up the valley by recent floods, sometimes with sections of our road washed away.
The last 6km of Bonaigua had long sweeping switchbacks to take us up and give amazing views. And the top and the descent were equally spectacular. Around 23km of climbing to reach Bonaigua followed by 45km downhill. The first six with 26 hairpins, the next 10 or so more straight and rapid- enabling a tour record of 86kmh by Adam, and 82kmh by yours truly (an ambition/milestone reached). The rest was more rolling and we were well ready for our lunch by the time we reached Sort.
After Sort came another 19km of climbing to top Cantó. More of a slog at times with weary legs, but equally superb views all the way. After chilling at the top we descended the 26km to Adrall, a drop that afforded the most breathtaking views of the trip. Truly stunning. We all freewheeled to take it all in.
The big hills over. One spectacular valley to descend and the home run to Barcelona starts tomorrow.