Volvo Ocean Race entry Groupama skipper, Franck Cammas, swapped boat for bike to take part in L'Étape du Tour Mondovélo and finish an outstanding 40th place in a field of over 7,000 cycling amateurs tackling one of the toughest mountain finishes of the Tour de France.
Cammas and nine of his Groupama team mates left Modane at 0705 yesterday at the start of a draining 109.5 km route. The skipper arrived at the infamous Alpe d'Huez summit four hours 11 minutes later, clearly exhausted yet highly satisfied with an experience he regards as hugely beneficial in the team's preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race.
'It was very tough,' said Cammas, still shaking as he crossed the finish line. 'You have to endure a lot, especially to cross the col du Galibier (2556m) and the Alpe d'Huez (1850m). It’s a good mental preparation – you have to suffer in silence and manage a long-term effort.'
Gautier Sergent, Groupama 4’s sail designer, finished just seven minutes behind Cammas, a natural athlete who always wants to compete, whatever the sport.
'Suffering together bonds us,' added Cammas. 'We trained all winter for this. I’m very proud of the guys, they all did well.
'The team is important in a bike race. It’s a protection, a shelter. To climb up to Alpe d’Huez, being together helps to keep the pace.'
Bowman Brad Marsh from New Zealand was also there. 'Such bike races are similar to the Volvo Ocean Race’s legs. You must control your energy and listen to your body to last.'
Groupama sailing team members on l'Étape du Tour Mondovélo