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Paris Awaits

The Tour de France arrives in Paris today and preparations are in full swing. The Champs Elysees is already closed and looks amazing without the 6 lanes of wall to wall traffic.

Spectators are lining the course already particularly at the top of the Champs Elysees just below the Arc de Triomphe where the riders turn. Space is already at a premium and the folding chairs are today's must-have items.

The whole atmosphere is of a carnival with memorabilia stalls, food and drink stalls, and all the media gear that goes with an event which today is the focus of the sporting world.

Can't tell you how it feels to be here and also to have make the same journey here that the pro riders have, albeit slightly slower.

If I had my way I'd be standing on the finish line shouting "what kept you guys? I've been waiting for you for days!" ;-)

Stage 20 - Longjumeau to Paris Champs Elysees - 105km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

After the high-speed train transfer from Bordeaux, the closing stage of the race will also be the shortest: 105 kilometres from Longjumeau, a new stage town, in Essonne, to Paris, entered from the west. Sprinters will be hoping for a glorious dash to victory on the final home stretch on the Champs-Élysées, and the 2010 Tour de France will crown its champion.

Stage 19 - Bordeaux to Pauillac - Individual Time Trial 51km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

If the 8 kilometre prologue was the starter, the only major time-trial in this year’s race is the dessert: a 51 kilometre long time-trial on undulating Medoc roads, at the heart of the celebrated vineyards that produce such quality Bordeaux vintages, and a finish line in Pauillac, a new stage town. Manifestly, the scene of an ultimate and decisive struggle for the Yellow Jersey.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 18 - Salies de Bearn to Bordeaux - 190km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

This stage through the pine-woods of Les Landes will be run on the day after the Tourmalet, following the Tour’s centenary celebrations of its first foray into the Pyrenees, and before the time-trial test. Bordeaux, which will receive the Tour for the 80th time – the highest record after Paris – should see flatland specialists living up to tradition and showing off their skills at this sprinters’ finish by the river in Quinconces Square.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 17 - Pau to Tourmalet - 174km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

The Tourmalet is the icon of the Pyrenees and the mountain top finish, situated in the Hautes-Pyrenees, will be the high spot of the 2010 Tour. It will be climbed on its steepest side uphill from Barèges following the ascension of the Marie-Blanque and Soulor passes. After the rest day climbing legs may be a little “rusty". Take heed!

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Rest Day in Pau

The second rest day of the The Tour and the opportunity to regroup and rebuild ready for the final push, rebuild what's left of me that is! Will try to provide you with updates during the day.

Stage 16

Definitely the hardest day I have ever had on a bike, by quite a margin. What was always going to be a very difficult day was made much harder by the weather, see below. The weather slowed all the descents dramatically due to the wet roads and the fact that I was descending in thick fog, the visibility was down to around 10 metres at best. Once again even in these terrible cycling conditions the SKINS cycling clothing performed superbly, I don't think they could have been more severely tested on this trip. I've had everything, searing temperatures, wet, freezing cold, high humidity and they have coped with anything that has come their way.

Amazingly to me I arrived at the end in decent shape and I don't feel done in and tomorrow is a rest day! I'm just now starting to believe that I might make it to the end of this adventure if lady luck continues to take care of me. After the rest day there is one more mountain stage to go and then things, though still very challenging, start to look a little less daunting but there is still a long way to go.

So far I've cycled just under 2000 miles, with one day of rest. It's surprising what you find out about yourself doing something like this, you can actually dig far deeper into your physical and mental reserves than you might think possible, that's one of the many lessons I have learned from this journey.

Well, I'll probably write up a little more about today tomorrow during the rest day but I'm off for some sleep now, thank you for dropping by.

Photographs from Today:

Cute couple in St Marie de Campan.
St Marie de Campan main street, the start of the climb of The Tourmalet.
Summit of The Tourmalet.

Today's Weather:

Unbelievably horrible. Low cloud throughout. This meant ascending into rain and thick fog and then descending in the wet in freezing cold. I have never been so cold on a bike. The ascend – get wet, descend - get frozen cycle was of course repeated for each of the four big climbs of the day.

Ride Time: 13:10hh:mm
Work Done: 5548kJ
Training Stress Score: 397
Intensity Factor: 0.575
Normalised Power: 175W
Variability Index: 1.37
Ride Distance: 123 miles
Elevation Gain: About 16,000 feet
Maximum Power: 523W
Average Power: 128W
Average Heart Rate: 111bpm
Average Speed - True: 9.3mph
Acute Training Load: 263.5
Chronic Training Load: 151.4
Training Stress Balance: -101.4