A day at the Tour de Romandie

Story by Alain Rumpf

May / 4 / 2016


This year, the queen stage of the Tour de Romandie finished in our hometown of Villars in the French speaking part of the Swiss Alps. A great opportunity to watch the WorldTour stars battle on our local roads!

To celebrate this, we took a group for some early season climbing in the morning with our ride leaders: Lillie for the 35km loop (800m of climbing), Jacqui and myself for the 60km loop (1600m of climbing), while Thomas and Amaël took the mountain goats on a bigger ride: 82 km and 2100m of climbing.

Above: Sampling the quiet roads in the Rhone Valley

We had great weather and enjoyed showing our backyard to the 22 riders who joined us. The Rhone Valley offers quiet roads and very scenic climbs, which everyone enjoyed. Jean-Michel and his support van were there to provide food and clothing, a huge plus when you ride up and down mountains with big temperature differences. We also took the opportunity to test our legs on the final climb to Villars, that same that the pros were going to climb - twice - in the afternoon. A quick look at the Strava leaderboard showed us afterwards what separates ‘them’ from ‘us’!

After a quick shower, we had lunch in town and headed to the stage finish area. On our way, we stopped to visit the Orica GreenEdge team bus - featured in many episodes of the famous Backstage Pass series. Luis Maria, the driver, went out of his way to show us every detail of his kingdom. A team bus is like a house on wheels with showers, a kitchen, a lounge area and storage spaces so well thought that they must have been designed by Ikea engineers. We felt we were in a James Bond movie when Luis Maria pushed a button and a table came up from the floor at the back of the bus… A truly unique experience.

Above: Luis Maria proudly showing us the secrets of the Orica-GreenEdge team bus

As we came out, it started to rain. A light drizzle that turned into an ice cold storm as the pros started to climb towards Villars for the first time. We found shelter in the finish village where we watched Chris Froome and Tejay Van Gaarderen on the big screen as they battled to stay away from the diminishing bunch lead by the Movistar team of race leader Nairo Quintana. After a scary descent in the rain, they climbed back to Villars and Froomey dropped Tejay to win solo as Quintana secured the overall victory.

We walked through the team area once again as we were leaving the race, just as the riders of the gruppetto were riding back to their buses. They were soaked and their faces showed how hard the race had been. And we were happy that we had been able to ride in the sun, on dry roads!

Well, it could have been worse: the next day, we woke up to 15cm of snow on the ground... But fortunately the race was gone. And we could relax by the fireplace, our head full of memories from a great day at the Tour de Romandie. This race is fantastic: the roads of Western Switzerland are fantastic and every year, many stars come to build up their form towards the Tour de France; yet, the atmosphere is relaxed and riders are very approachable. Steve and Yvan even managed to get a selfie with Chris Froome as he was walking back to his bus!

Check our list of tours in Switzerland and join us on the road.

Above: Selfie with Froomey!

Thanks to all the participants for joining us for this event; to our friends at Orica-GreenEdge for letting us visit their bus; to Velosophe, the « Cyclist Beer » that kept us hydrated after our ride; to the Tour de Romandie for visiting us at home and to Villars Tourism for helping us with the organisation.

See you next year!

Above: It can't get more Swiss than that

Above: Jacqui and Andreas near the top of the climb to Les Giettes

Above: Snow makes for a good bike stand

#bikesbrigade #velosophe

Une photo publiée par Sebastian Carballo (@sebastian_carballo) le

Above: Recovery food would be much needed after such a grueling stage

Above: Luis Maria speaks a mix of Spanish, French and English and we all understood his passion for his job

Above: Should we stay inside as the rain starts to fall?

Above: Everyone had fun

Above: We were happy that this came the day after...