Several ProTour teams have chosen to use the week between the Giro d'Italia and the Dauphiné Libéré (starting this Sunday) to take their riders up the Alpine mountains that will be raced this July in the Tour de France.
While French team La Française des Jeux trained in the region of L'Alpe d'Huez (which will be the finish of stage 17 on July 23), AG2R La Mondiale was located in the Maurienne valley, and Cofidis further south towards the Italian border. But none of the teams had any luck as to the weather.
The Col du Galibier was closed, and temperatures were down to 3° Celsius on the Col de la Croix-de-Fer (both mountains will be climbed during stage 17). On their test ride up to Prato Nevoso in Italy (stage 15), Cofidis riders had to skip the second climb of that stage, the Col Agnel, as well as the highest mountaintop of the next Tour de France, the Cime de la Bonnette-Restefond (stage 16).
"The last four kilometres of the climb towards Prato are really terrible," said Cofidis sports director Francis Vanlondersele to L'Equipe. "It was worthwhile to see that."
As the Cofidis riders culminated on the Col de la Lombarde (stage 16), a snow storm came down and terminated their reconnaissance. On Thursday, the teams Rabobank, CSC, Caisse d'Epargne are expected in the region before travelling west to Avignon, Provence where the Dauphiné Libéré will start on Sunday.