Note, remember I said that I've been working for the last seven years to watch every stage of Tour de France...so my recap of stage 12 is a bit late but here, none the less. Thanks for reading.

13 is the day, the stage is 12 from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux and tomorrow, the intrepid riders of Tour de France (Tdf) ride Stage 13; two 13s in a twenty four hour period. That didn’t bode well for one rider Montcoutie of Cofidis. He endured a horrific crash on the descent of the 1,188 meter first climb and withdrew from the tour – in tears. He is none the less an elite athlete, as is any bicycler ordaining to enter TdF.  It’s also interesting to note that the rider who was “the show” on stage 10, Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara of Team Radio Shack-Nissan did not start in stage 11. Bicycling professionally across the French countryside of a country often synonymous with romance can prove to be less than romantic for some. Fatigue, mechanical difficulty and road hazards can exact a high price. While I might entertain the notion of riding such an event, I know from my own experience of bicycling fractional distances of The Tour here in the Ark La Tex, I’d barely make it out of the first stage or two. Upon getting into “the Mountains,” I’d be hopelessly lost. But that’s another story. Cyclists who enter TdF year after year and don’t let it beat them deserve a level of respect due any elite athlete.

From my perspective, though, the two category one climbs in Friday’s 140 mile ride are the highlights. Not so much going up, but going down. Riders coast at up to 60 miles per hour as they negotiate hairpin turns and straights that can be a bit blind due to foliage. Descending a hill is a blast; the highest speed I’ve ever seen on my rides around here is about 30 mph…and as exhilarating as that is, I’ll tell you, I do get a bit unnerved.

Once off the second descent, the route sloped toward the finish, but with a caveat; the blasted finish line is UP A HILL! Now for these guys who had lifted themselves over two 1,000 meter plus mountains, it’s not much more than an ant hill. BUT, after 5 plus hours atop a human powered vehicle-in a race-it requires decided effort to stay sharp for such a finish. While these riders’ conditioning and endurance far exceeds mine, I can say from experience it can be a hurtin’ thing.

Watching Team Garmin’s David Millar of Great Britain power over the finish line for the stage 12 win was a rush!  It’s his FOURTH stage win in his debut on TdF! Of his win, Millar said “…it’s particularly poignant that it came today on the 45th anniversary of Tommy Simpson's death. I think it's a full circle in a way. I'm an ex-doper…very proud of where our sport is today and what we've done to change it. I think we mustn't forget the past …I'm one…who…made mistakes and I want people to know that I am clean now and the sport is a different sport.” It’s a good thing when athletes grow up and take responsibility for their performance level. A big butt-swat for J. Peraud of France for trying to match Millar crank for crank and stay in the uphill chase to finish second for the stage. Overall TdF leader Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain was in the Peloton that finished 7 plus minutes after the first riders over the line. Wiggins’ total time through the stage is 54 hrs 34 min 33 sec. Team mate Chris Froome is separated from him by just over 2 minutes.