Tour de Pez: The Adventure Begins!

This is it, people! Roll up, roll up for le Tour de France. This is sport’s equivalent of a freeform jazz freakout. You might not understand why it twists and turns the way it does. You might not always enjoy the sound, but you will never go unaffected! It all begins with today’s team presentation in Brest.

The adventure begins. It’s a whole new trek for me, covering Le Tour from the inside & roadside for you fine PEZ-Fans. I’m hoping to help you understand what the Tour is like from a newcomer’s perspective. And that means all the good stuff, hopefully no bad stuff, and anything else weird or wonderful that the race, France, and the ASO turns up.

It’s always nice to see the signs of Le Tour.

After a heinously early start to the day – 5.00am to catch the first flight – I’d been praying for things to go smoothly. I’d been tipped off that picking up press credentials can be a fairly unpredictable business, a little like herding cats. You try until your eyes bleed, but sometimes you can’t get what you want.

The crowd was several times larger than turned out in Palermo for the Giro team pres… but this IS Brittany.

For me, luckily, as soon as Dominique from ASO saw the word ‘Vancouver’ on my creds sheet, it was a done deal. He’d studied over at the University of British Columbia in the hometown of “PEZ HQ Worldwide”, so he was delighted to help out. Score another one for Pez!

”Bonjour, bienvenue a Tour de France, here are your credentials – and I love Vancouver! Dominic is our new best bud on the ASO inside, – always a good thing to have.

Stickers lovingly applied to the Pezmobile, it was a careful, speed observant trip back into town to park up for the team presentation. Being from Scotland, Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road is still a new thing for me, so I’m taking it very easy!

Barloworld’s John-Lee Augustyn can’t quite believe he’s about to roll onto the biggest cycling stage on earth.

The presentation itself was a somewhat wired experience with a lot of very nervous pros and management, and a lot of walkie-talkie waving from the organizers to keep things to schedule. Incredibly, I’d go as far as saying that it all ran remorselessly to the script.

Bagpipes in France? The tunes had Gord feeling right at home.

Even the local band had everything nailed, and the throngs seemed to love it, almost as much as they loved Bouygues Telecom – easily the biggest reception of the lot, topping even the roar for Christophe Moreau.

The difference in riders was immense. Garmin-Chipotle’s David Millar looked like anywhere would have been a better place to be. Denis Menchov studiously avoided any sort of eye contact with the photographers for the picture call, while beside him Juan Antonio Flecha and Oscar Friere shared a few laughs.

Juan-Antonio gives it up for PEZ-Fans.

With the wind getting up and the temperature up and down more often than a boiler-room share price, I evacuated to grab a baguette de jambon, a grille aux pommes and some aqua sans gas from a little stall across the road.

Le Salle de Presse. Two days to the Grand Depart and everyone’s already typing like secretaries on ‘magic dancing powder’.

Then it was on the road to Morlaix, where I’ll hopefully get to sample a few more gastronomic treats tomorrow.

Allez! Allez! Allez!

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