Mike Simpson

To the rest day and all roads lead to Annecy, except the ones we are seemingly on

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CCC2013 Stage Five

Albertville to Annecy

201km with 5942m of climbing

Yesterday may have been hailed as the queen stage but today's profile was monumental and involved even more climbing, although saying the stage is from Alberville to Annecy does not really give much away as directly that is only 26 miles and could be done in little over an hour. We took a very convoluted route taking in bags of climbs, they just kept coming. Some old favourites Saisies/Aravis and some stunning new ones, especially the Col de Arpettaz which was the long climb after the first feed.

Talking of feed stops these long days are made so much easier when you know there will be food for you every 50km. The morning and afternoon stops have plenty of bread, cake and nuts but it is the lunches that are always the highlight of the day with Claire always sourcing fresh local artisan ingredients and preparing wonderful courses. It must be so hard for her when a bunch of vultures descend and devour all her work.

After an hour we are still only a few kilometres from where we started as we snake a round all the climbs, and hours into the stage and we are still seeing signs back to Alberville, will we ever get to Annecy? The steep col de Plan Bois was made trickier by the addition of a herd of cows and accompanying cow poo. It's a long day but by day five the body has adapted and the kilometres fly by. After a few more summits we get that first view of Annecy lake and the venue for the rest day. I get a little emotional as I recall my visit to Annecy in 2002 to watch my friend Sam at the Euro Cup Track Champs. Sam is no longer with us but he is always in my thoughts and hardly a week goes by without a tearful moment or two. At this stage I don't know how much further I will be able to go with my knee problems but I am delighted to have made it to they rest day. My new chum Kelli went slightly wrong and added more climbing putting her male counterparts to shame by racking up the most climbing on one stage on any cent col challenge (a whopping 6130m). Davina has popped over for a few days and is there as we pull in to our posh lake side hotel. I don't know how I'll cope without Dave Ward for two nights but I'm sure Davina will do her best :)

Click images to enlarge.