Sunday, June 24th: Izoard Day! From our hotel it was a long descent past Briancon, towards Gap. The first 17 kilometres from Guillestre climb at a very gradual gradient with gradients from two to five percent. The climb really starts when the route leaves the main road to Chateau Queyras and climbs through Le Pasquier and Brunissard before the last 7 kilometres of climbing, with sections of 10%, to the Col. The view as the forest is left behind and the eroded cliffs around the Casse Deserte is unforgettable. The descent of the southern side of the Col d'Izoard can be incredibly fast as the straights are long with open fields on each side of the road; Eros was cruising at 55 mph. In terms of shear beauty this was my favorite day. Forests, ice blue roaring rivers, the Casse Deserte, and riding through old rock tunnels. Absolutely spectacular.
By the time I reached the top I thought, "When I get back to Verona I'm just going to throw my Pinarello into the Adige River." I wasn't the only one having evil thoughts. One of the riders in our group was saying, "I'll sell my bike for 300 Euro!" That was for a 5,000+ Euro bike.
With dark clouds moving in we didn't spend much time atop Izoard. We could have used a rest as after the descent from Izoard we had to climb back up to and past Briancon to out hotel! Mama mia. A few cloud bursts insured a high pace as no one was interested in getting soaked.
Back at the hotel by 2:30 p.m. there was time for a shower, packing up the bikes, loading everything, and then a nice lunch with champagne to celebrate our giro. We left Le Monetier-Les-Bains at 4:30pm and arrived back in Verona at 10:30 pm.
The trip was absolutely wonderful! Eros did a fantastic job of organization and everyone was very satisfied.
I wonder what's in store for next year?
Photos: the monument atop Izoard, me and Daniela (note that we are bundled up), the clouds moving in, the Casse Desert