first team / Camp Tignes

Day 4: Biking up Iseran

Published on the 13 July 2006 à 12:00 by R.B

The sun might not have returned to Tignes, but at least the rain stayed away. July 13 began with a mountain bike ride up the Iseran peak. Not a casual Sunday afternoon ride for the Lyon players…

At 9:00, the coach left the Hôtel Montana and headed through Tignes and out towards Val d’Isère on Route 902. A succession of tunnels as the road is carved into the banks of the lake. Of course the sun’s no-show didn’t mean the squad didn’t get a good look at the village as road works saw lengthy delays. Val d’Isère? A ski station wedged between two mountains: wood, stones, flowering balconies... the Killy reminds us that the Grenoble Olympics triple champions was born here…

The road starts to rise as soon as we leave the station and Iseran looms into view. A car-park full of bikes at the petit Pont St Charles. Everybody out. In just moments the peloton is on its way. “Don’t look at the summit,” “it’s gonna get hot,” “stay on the right ‘cause there’s plenty of traffic about.” Certain players talk and joke nervously. The players check out their bikes and Benzema successfully pulls off a mono-wheel. The giant John Carew puts toilet paper on his seat. François Clerc is focused on the task at hand. The ‘Doc’ distributes the energy bars.

9:40, Robert Duverne gives his final words of advice. “Go at your own pace…” And they’re off for 11km. And no sooner are they on their way then each drifts into solitary suffering. Claudio Cacapa takes up the challenge and still has time to joke. “I’m leaving last, but I’ll finish first.” Jo Bats is just ahead of him. At the front, Pedretti and Clerc have taken off like lightning only to be quickly joined by Abdel Redissi, Rémi Garde... the faces, like that of Mounier, are red, the breaths are quick, the heads look at the pedals. Benhamida and Berthod look for a comfortable position on the bike. Diatta forgets the pain thanks to the music in his walkman. Just one kilometre down... the eyes look up and the summit appears not to have moved any closer… There’s at least 50 minutes to go for the quickest to see the sign: “Col de l’Iseran, altitude 2 770m”… the terminus for today…

But our story ends there. Gérard Houllier doesn’t want us to go any further than the first little rise. He doesn’t want his players revealed in a light that want necessarily be flattering. Yet pain and suffering are certainly a part of sport... It’s a shame...

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