Saturday, 26 July 2014

Le Tour: here and there.

I feel it is important to complete my Tour de France posts before the race finishes…tomorrow, in Paris.
Today is “ contre le montre”….isn’t that a wonderful phrase, so much better than “time trial” or “against the clock”.

The result is all but decided. Unless Vicenze Nibali breaks a bone falling off his bike in the next 45 minutes, he will win tomorrow…by an amazing 7 minutes and a few seconds.
The real battle today is for 2nd and 3rd, and it’s exciting as there are a couple of Frenchmen that could make it. One might not, ( the young rider, Pinot…but he will win the best young rider jersey ).

Anyway….. I need to comment on the differences between seeing le Tour in Yorkshire and in Carcassonne.

 We ( Mark and I, and friends, Jane and Verity ) had an excellent spot ( saved by Jane and Verity, who arrived before us ) to view the Carcassonne depart. We were right by the start gate, where all the riders would line up at 10.45 am.

We watched the caravan go through first….much bigger than that we saw in Yorkshire. It makes sense  I suppose that companies that have no profile in the UK, would hardly take their floats and other vehicles across to the UK, to advertise products of which we have never heard.

This company makes dried sausage....they distributed hats and ...dried sausage.

Even before the caravan, people were walking amongst the crowds, throwing marketing material to those making the most noise. I was determined to take photos rather than concentrate on the freebies…..but somehow, acquiring huge plastic sun glasses, and various sun hats took on an importance all of its own. Verity was brilliant at attracting merchandise !

The man giving out red and white hats....he gave Verity 3 of them !

Those giant sun glasses were very sought after.

Carcassonne did seem to take it all its’ stride. A few days before hand, you would not have been aware that Le Tour was coming to town…not like those Yorkshire towns which were decorated in yellow  for weeks beforehand. Le Tour has been to Carcassonne several times before…but still…..I was surprised at how late the decorations went up.

Even on the morning of the Carcassonne depart,  Place Carnot cafes did not open earlier than usual, despite hundreds of people walking through the square on their way to the starting point. The roads were not closed until an hour and a half before the caravan’s departure…..not like the 48 hours closure for Holme Moss !  The roads were also open again 20 minutes after the bikes had been through…….not much disruption at all.

Somehow I ended up with several photos of this policeman

Mark with his Yorkshire depart T shirt

All this isn’t to say that Carcassonne did not seem like an exciting place on Tuesday morning. The crowds were large ( 60,000 )…..but not compared to the 600,000 who had witnessed the fireworks in the city just a week ago on quatorze Juillet. However everyone was smiling, cheering, and having a good time. The crowd was very good natured, although as the start time came closer, we did feel we had to defend our position a little.
Our brilliant position enabled us to get some amazing photos….particularly of Nibali…chatting and grinning.

Nibali chatting to King of the Mountains

Does he know, even here...that he has it in the bag ?

seconds to go
and they're off.....

As I am writing this, Peraud…the other Frenchman who may end up on the podium is doing  well…he has just overtaken the youngster…….so, there may be 2 Frenchman on the podium for the first time in will be brilliant if there are 2 of them. …..not having Wiggins, Froome, or Richie Porte to cheer for… we would like to see a Frenchman succeed....and I think France will just about explode if 2 of them make it.

we did think for a moment, the official photographers would spoil our view...but as you can see from our photos....we did ok
It will all be over tomorrow…..until next year. We are planning to see a finish of a stage next year, and maybe, if we can get up early enough in the morning to get to the Pyrenees before they close roads,  in the mountains. 

We discovered...the next day, that we had made it into the press coverage of the start... Verity and I are busy getting our shots of Nibali et al, and Mark ( with the straw hat) and Jane ( with the blond hair) are hidden in the crowd. We appeared on page 2 of L'Independant.

The press photo of us....taking photos

An excellent morning !

As I finish this post, I find that the 2 Frenchmen did it. Although technically there is still one day to go, unless they fail to finish ( and the last day is more of a procession than a race into Paris...then it's a competition for the sprinters, who aren't in the race for the General Classification ( the overall winners) to see who wins the stage on the Champs Elysees)...there will be 2 Frenchman on the podium, either side of Nibali.


  1. You clearly had a great day there...and I did smile at your eference to having to 'defend your position'....jumble sale elbows coming in handy, by any chance?

  2. Yes.... the 4 of us have all lived in London at various stages, so have good preserving your position on the tube, whilst standing next to a hundred other people skills.

  3. What a gruelling race it is - it seems ages ago since it began in Yorkshire, but interesting to hear how the race is conducted in France. Are Jane and Verity sisters?

    1. I think it must be one of the most gruelling sporting events in the world Rosemary...but completely fascinating. Jane is Verity's mother. I think she'll be delighted you thought they might be sisters.

  4. What a wonderful commentary, full of photos and quips. I feel as if I've had a first hand account of Le Tour, Janice - because I have. Thanks for sharing all this. Smiling here on the Cutoff. :)

  5. Your posts do give us a really good feel for being there when the Tour comes along, Janice. It all looks great fun, with a parade as a bonus. Love that you made it into the press! xx

    1. yes..the press photo was an added bonus !

  6. You give such a vivid picture of the day and of the differences between watching the Tour in Yorkshire and in France. Having no TV here, your posts have been so interesting for me, Janice. :)

    1. Thanks P. Once again, I have thoroughly enjoyed le Tour....looking forward to next year already.