Tour de France
I am finally home and reflecting on our last days in France and the finale in Paris.
Two days before, we were in the Pyrenees and my staff were making the final adjustments to our fleet of bikes for our Sunday morning ride. We were reflecting on the weeks past. How different our location was from 24hrs ago. We adjusted tyre pressure to be able to sustain a few kilometers of pave leger around the streets of Paris. The Weather forecast was looking good, a far cry from what we had been experiencing over the weeks past—which was more reminiscent of the Spring Classics than the tour. Friday’s stage to Bergerac was ridden in horrific stormy conditions including hail.
We were ready to welcome our new guests for their Paris weekend experience, Rudy and I made sure our refreshments were at a respectable temperature, the French don’t mind a beer at room temperature! Some invitees we knew as guests over the past few weeks and some came afresh from other European conquests. All were keen to hear what we had been witnessing over the past few days and to join us for our afternoon of festivities in the Eifel Terrace, a VIP suite where we were to watch the afternoon’s time-trial on the big screen while nibbling on a few hors d’oeuvres and knocking back a few brews/glasses of wine.
While stage favorite Tony Martin smoked around the undulating 54km course the yellow-jerseyed Nibali continued to impress showing off his all round abilities, proving that he is a respectable winner of this 101st edition of LeTour.
Closing the bar, we had an early dinner and turned in for an early night knowing we were to have a big Sunday.
A couple of bikes needed to be fitted and after a short briefing we hit the streets of Paris for a ride amongst the monuments of this wonderful city. There is no better way to get the feel of the city than by bike on a sleepy Sunday morning. We rolled up to Notre Dame to find the square sparse but as our ride progressed traffic and crows began to stir. We passed the Eifel Tower and the Palais de Chaillot en-route to the Bois de Boulogne where we dis a few laps of the Longchamp Hippodrome. This popular cyclists haunt hasn’t changed much from when I used to come here in the 70s and train as a kid. Thousands of cyclists, all having a blast.
After a brief hammer session in the peloton it was back to our digs to prepare for the afternoon on the Champs. We sent a group early to catch the beginning of the woman’s La Course by Le Tour while I went down a little later and am happy not to have missed the conclusion of what was an exciting sprint where Marianne Vos smoked the field is a close finish just in front of fellow Dutch woman Kirsten Wild.
Once settled in our seats we were treated to one final passage of the caravane publicitaire. Well placed, our seats were opposite a big screen we watched as the peloton approaching the final 8 laps on the famous Champs Elysees.
Australia was well represented not only in the women’s race (Emma Johansson in 8th and Amy Gillett scholarship holder Lizzie Williams in 12th place) but also the men’s, where Richie Porte was in a brave move in the closing laps and then Simon Clark was seen off the front with half a lap to go.
The final sprint has traditionally been very entertaining and to be trackside and witness the likes of Kittel, Kristoff, Gripel, and Sagan doing battle is a real treat. I believe we all came away having seen a wonderful battle for the line.
As we meandered from the Champs Elysees to our booked restaurant near our hotel, we couldn’t help to wonder if the results would have been different if all the favorites would have made it to Paris. In history this year will go down as an exciting and risky one and probably the only way to settle the argument is to watch this space next year.
Over and out from me.
Written by Phil Anderson