flipping_elves: (peloton)
[personal profile] flipping_elves
10am on Tues morning and I was so excited I was practically skipping, my first  live cycling in an age, and my first live Tour de France stage EVER!

We walked out of the hotel and almost straight onto the finishing line.  Even this early it was beginning to fill up with a lot of people laying claim to space by the barriers. There were a huge amount of Union Jacks, and hopes were high for Cav.  We didn't really have a plan as to where we wanted to watch the race, but as we watched the bunfight at the barriers we decided that we wanted to experience the atmosphere rather than the pure finish.
Look.... Finish Line... would it be Cav screaming across in 7hours or so time?

In the end we went for a walk along the beautiful sea front as far as the flamme rouge, and found a spot at around the 350m marker.  We thought we'd see some good sprint train action there, and it had an added bonus of being near a loudspeaker so we could get some commentary... if our French was up to scratch (it really wasn't).  We had a lovely baguette sandwich and a slice of buttery Breton cake for lunch, and staked out our spot by the railings by 1.30 or so.  The race was due to arrive somewhere between 5.15 and 5.40, depending on how fast they blasted out.

So we waited. Were we bored? NOOO because there were all the wonderful sponsors giving out freebies.  They really worked the crowd well, getting them to cheer and yell for the weirdest things.  My favourite was the Baguette Man in full suit, he was brilliant... and I was chuffed to receive a baguette in it's special souvenir bag.  Next to us was an old French couple, they said they'd watched at least one stage of the tour every year for the last 40 years.  It was amusing to see they were shouting as loud as the rest of us when the Haribo van arrived.

Every so often groups of cyclist would ride along the route to huge applause.  I guess these were people who were doing special 'Ride the Route' tours.  Some of them sprinted for it which was brilliant and also amusing, others were just happy to soak up the experience.  They also brought a group of school children along all dressed in yellow t shirts, and partner used them to practice getting shots of moving cyclists. it is much, much harder than it appears, I ave a very deep respect for the photographers who bring us their wonderful pics.  I have to admit that I was completely useless... couldn't even get the buses in fram and in focus.. Chris was much better, but even then he decided the only thing to do was set the camera on it's fastest shutter speed, put it in burst mode, hold it up in the air, and hope for the best.
IMG_8881 M Baguette and me (2)
M Le Baguette, running to me...

At about 3.30 the Publicity Caravanne arrived complete with all sorts of weird and wonderful trucks.  There were also several team cars and buses at the end as well, and as I watched an OPQS car drive by, who should be looking out of the window but Peta and DGC... that was a real bonus.  Everyone really cheered when the Orica GE bus appeared.. that poor driver will never live it down.!
IMG_8898 Haribo rs

IMG_8907 mini sausage rs
Petit Sausages 2CV formation team

The loudspeaker kept us informed of the break, and from what I could make out the they were going to be reeled in.  The peloton were also having an easy day it seemed, as they wererunning later than their latest estimated time.  We had to be back at the ferry terminal by 6.30... eeek would we see them at all ???

By 5.30 the tension was palpable, I could no longer understand the stream of excited French from the commentary,  and then we heard it.  That incredible noise of people shouting and banging the barriers, the swell of noise came up the finishing straight like a howl.  hey were on their way, holding the camera aloft, we held our breath...  The sprinting trains shot past us at an incredible speed, followed by the GC contenders, and then the tail enders.  We had no idea who had won, didn't even know there had been a crash, until much later on.
Cav, Kittel and Sagan in full flow

Look who's lurking the background... Jakob! Sadly this would be the best pic I would get ;(
oh yeah and there's Froome and Eddy as well

Berto race face and Dan Martin (whi I like but haven't quite forgiven yet)

Andy... bless his little face
And towards the back, poor old Geraint looking very tired.

As we decamped from the barriers to make a very hurried trip to the ferry, the last sight we had of the riders was a very dejected group of Carrots, pedalling away from the finish to join their coach, which for some reason hadn't come up with the other teams.  What a way to finish the stage.

The ferry trip back to Jersey went quickly as we huddled over the camera to see what we had managed to capture on our day to the Tour.  I have to say the boiy did well, with a bit of judicious cropping here and there, we were quite pleased with some of them.  Let's hope he can maintain this standard for tomorrow!

Next stop Stage 11...
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