The soulful Pyrenees seem so mysterious and remote in comparison to their superstar cousins, the Alps. But that just makes them all the more romantic. Maybe you have a mountain range near your own home that you love, like the Berkshires, the Cascades, or the Alleghenies. But for a few days in July, every cycling fan's heart lies in the Pyrenees.
My Stage 12, 13, and 14 watercolors are of the blur of orange-flag-waving Basque fans as they crowd around the climbing rider, a lone racer careening down a misty Pyrenean descent, and the mountain switchbacks made so colorful by the breakaway and long line of fans:
There was so much drama in these three stages! Not only did Thor Hushovd earn his first mountain victory, but the battle of the favorites was both weird and wonderful. Sure, it would have been fun to see Contador, one of the Schleck brothers, or Evans pull out ahead and really dominate the race. But watching all of the contenders eye and test each other on the slopes of the Plateau de Beille was equally suspenseful and thrilling. And best of all, we still have no idea who the 2011 Tour de France frontrunner is. It's going to make for a wonderful few days in the Alps!