July 17, 2003
Greg Taylor rode "l'Etape du Tour" yesterday. Since 1993, organizers have chosen one of the Tour's harder stages, and run an all-comers ride on the stage route.
This year's Etape route will be seen on Stage 16 on Tuesday, and the Tour website reported that 5-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain (now 39) abandoned l'Etape partway. Other riders included F1 driver Alain Prost, former world champion Abraham Olano, and Dutch speedskating gold medalist Bart Veldkamp.
Presumably somewhere farther back in the field was Taylor:
This year's edition of the Etape will be run over the route of Stage 16 -- from Pau to Bayonne -- the Tour's last and possibly toughest day in the Pyrenees. It will be 123 miles of just getting down to it and grunting it out with 7,000 of my closest riding buddies. With all of the climbing and a scattering of 10 percent grades, it's a route guaranteed to separate the men from the boys and me from my lunch. Yup, no question about it, it's going to be a festival of pain, a fact that even Lance himself acknowledged back in June at the press conference before the Dauphine Libere :"In the Pyrenees they look to the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden. They look to the legendary stages, but they forget about the stage to Bayonne, which goes over two climbs that are probably the steepest climbs in the Tour de France. So for me, there are the famous climbs, but there are also these ones that nobody thinks about and I'm glad we saw, because they're very difficult and they could change the results of the race."
If Lance says that it's gonna be hard, its gonna be hard, so my own personal level of fitness is probably pretty irrelevant at this point. I guess that the best way to look at it is that if it were easy, it wouldn't be fun. And I'll keep telling myself that over and over as I painfully grind up the tallest mountain pass on the route, the front wheel of my bicycle pointing up at the sky. "This is fun….this is fun….this is fun…."
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