26.07.2010, Aurland-Gaupne (154.2 Km – 2125 m)
[Pictures] Long stage with a hard climb today. Touring and racing classes started together at 8:00 this morning under a drizzling rain as 150 riders went through the world longest road tunnel escorted by a police car and motorcycles. For 24.5 Km there was nothing much else to see except the walls of the tunnel and the blinking lights of the riders ahead. Certainly an once-in-a-lifetime experience: better than cycling on a home-trainer, even if almost as monotonous. However, the distance was not sufficient to set a world record in uninterrupted underground cycling, as this is probably set at 27.1 Km. Not even the time enjoy the daylight in Laerdal we promptly entered a second, shorter tunnel (only 6.5 Km) that led us to the fjord of Ardal which we followed for about 30 Km until we reached Ovre-Ardal, foot of the main climb of the day. The ascent to Tindevegen was basically composed of two sections of about 6 and 8 Km respectively, both at steady 10% and separated by just few flatter kilometers. After the toll station at the top there was a brief descent, immediately followed by a new steep ascent which essentially was a replay of the two last nasty kilometers leading to Tindevegen. It was not an easy ascent of course, but I didn’t felt more tired than on a usual one-day trip. Also the descent was not too bad: I managed to stay away from any group, what allowed me to go down with my own speed without misleading any following rider into a ravine. The last 30 Km were a quite ride along the fjord to Gaupne. Time to relax a little bit (after an oversized portion of lasagna and an expensive Norwegian beer). Tomorrow easy stage: just a little more than 75 Km a no real climb on our way to Vik (ferry ride across the fjord included).