Anne Pichon & Voeckler in the Leader's Jersey
No strangers to the well-rounded high life of wine and bikes, the folks at T. Edwards Wines climbed our own hors categorie mountain in 2009. Inspired by the TdF, our love of cycling, and our relationship with Marc Pichon of Domaine le Murmurium, 17 members of the TEW family joined six others for a 1909m climb up Mt. Ventoux, a mountain that's been on the TdF route for a total of 14 times.
With 68 days of training locked tightly beneath their cleats, our team flew with Cannondales to stay with Marc for a total of five nights. On Saturday, they lined the route at the 15km mark, where the route is straight-away and at a 9 to 11% grade. After the first 50 riders of the TdF passed, Team TEW watched the remainder of the splintered peloton suffering to keep cadence as they climbed. At home, everyone had kept charts of elevations and grades on their desks, with the intention of climbing Ventoux via Sault, which is a much easier route. But, since they'd made the journey here to watch Lance Armstrong win, as an homage, they had to climb via Bedouin, the most difficult way up.
Sunday evening, the day before Team TEW's scheduled climb, they drove the route, which scared everyone sober, and then slept a sleepless night. “The climb starts mellow, at 2-3%, and you think, 'I could do this all day long,'” says Peter, a veteran of the trip. “And they you make a left turn and your life changes...it's like riding up a wall...completely relentless until Chalet Reynauld, just 4km from the top.” With crowds still camped out at their trailers, there was no shortage of cowbells and cheers. And just as the pros splinter, so did our group divide, with our fastest climber finishing in two hours, and the last man up in twice that time. Thankfully, a triumphant yet thirsty Team TEW met on the slopes with La Ferme St. Pierre's Paul Vendran, who'd picked up a couple of bottles of his most excellent Cuvee Juliette, grown from grapes on the slopes of Mt. Ventoux, to share at the top.