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J300 - Thursday, August 12: Blitterswijck - Ochten

77.53km  – 10H56’
Altitude : 12 m
The Netherlands is composed of 12 provinces and in spite of the fact that it is one of the flattest countries in the world, Serge found some hills today in the Gelderland province as he climbed to an altitude of 80 meters.  We entered via the province of Limburg, where one finds the highest point of the country: 321 meters.  For your information, ¼ of the territory is below sea level.
With cycle paths and flat terrain, it’s understandable why Serge has decided to prolong the pleasure and stay in this country until august 21.
It was a beautiful day and we went through the city of Nijmegen, population 160,000.  We crossed the bridge over the Waal and went along right bank of the river to the end of the stage, at Ochten. We had enough time to see dozens of barges pass because the river traffic is heavy.  Clouds gathered and starting at km 65 sprinkled some rain.  Serge hurts all over, in particular on the ball of his left foot, not to mention the sadly famous right Achilles tendon.  He has to compensate for everything and if we try to relieve one side we create other problems on the other side.  In short, Serge is locked into his painful body and it will be so until the end.  I am not resigned just realistic, like he is.  However, when fatigues weights heavily, it’s more difficult to endure pain.  
The team is OK.  Fatigue has settled in the ranks.  Daniel holds the course with his legendary endurance (he will stay with us until September 10), whereas our two youngsters are happy to return to rest because they are beginning to feel the fatigue.  Jean-Yves and Brigitte have vacation days left and will be able to recuperate and enjoy their children and granddaughter, Emma.  But for the moment, everyone holds the course to Amsterdam, which we will brush past on August 15 and 16.  We are following our captain, alias Sergio.
Serge comes in from his stage, dead tired, like an old nag.  He sighs with relief as he takes off his shoes: “Boy, I hurt all over and that’s not an understatement.”  But tomorrow the machine will have to start up like it does every day!
The whole team salutes you and says « see you tomorrow when 22,000 km are clocked, Insha’Allah! »

Town : Ochten

GPS : N 51.54’59.9° E 005.34’60.5°