Tour de France
Alsace to the Alpes
Unlike the Protour riders, we spent the day successfully dodging the rain. Some riders had their first taste of cobblestones as we began our ascent through the stunning little village of Ammenrschwihr, wreathed in the Vosges Mountains. Soon, jerseys were being unzipped as we zigzagged through the trees coming to the beautiful Lac Blanc as the fog descended and the support van became suddenly crowded. We timed lunch perfectly with a huge downpour, casting our thoughts to the professionals on the big screen.
Then there was a break in the clouds and we took our chance to join the throng milling in the hills above, waiting for their glimpse of yellow.
The hill was so steep that the publicity caravan took a detour on the penultimate climb. After the guests enjoyed watching the usual brawling over plastic keyrings, the call went out that the race wasn’t following this gentle curve and the whole of France picked up their folding chairs and rushed up the 1.5km to where the action was.
Tony whipped out an Australian flag from his jersey and paraded for the Dateline cameras that were doing a special on Phil Anderson Cycling tours. The skies opened but the sudden rain didn’t dampen the party atmosphere. Whilst the majority of the crowd sat in plastic covered clumps, our team took shelter under the bridge with a great view of the course.
The cheer came up as Blel Kadri came into sight over 2 minutes ahead of tour favourite, Contador, and his team being lead by Michael Rogers. However, nothing could match the mighty roar from the French as Voeckler rolled passed 8 minutes later.
The guests were grinning as we returned to the vans, keen for another day riding in the footsteps of the peloton on Le Markstein.
July 13—ALSACE TO ALPES
I set out with the main group for a relaxed ride through corn fields towards Le Markstein, and half an hour later the keen guests (lovingly dubbed the masochists) set out with Rudy for a 32km/h race to catch us.
By the time we reached the base of the climb the roads were already closed. Well versed in such TdF setbacks, the PAC support team possessed sufficient sangfroid to keep a straight face while rolling passed the Gendarme manning the corner, a quick wave assumed on the way through for good measure. It’s amazing what you can get away with if you pretend you’re meant to be there!
Back on the bike things were a little less cool as everyone concentrated on the steep ascent, but they were rewarded with spectacular views across the border to Germany.
Whilst the gents sweated and swore, Sandy gently ate away at the climb, a big smile on her face the whole way up. “What stunning views,” she chirped as she rolled to the top. Some guests probably didn’t take their concentration off their bike stem to notice!
After a picnic lunch, I gathered everyone around to give them some important insights into the Tour, namely where the best position was to get a huge bag of treats from the publicity caravan. The guests had a great time waving and catching gifts from the cars, every couple of minutes changing wardrobe as a new hat came flying through the air.
The sun came out while we waited for the race to come through then the helicopters descended and the cheering began to move up the mountain like a Mexican wave. Everyone got a great kick out of seeing Tony Martin flying up the climb and then returning to the hotel in time to see the last 5km of the race.
Tomorrow is Bastille Day and what I think will be a fantastic stage to watch!
Written by Phil Anderson