Roadside St.21: First up you have to get there; 350 odd miles from Grenoble to Creteil. We went to the start at Creteil because driving into Paris on Tour day isn’t recommended if you want to get there the same day – but the magic creds take you along the parcours, straight to the Place de la Concorde.
But for old times sake we had a quick look at the village – we’ll miss those chefs.
And checked out the bus park, Tommy’s lions have been breeding.
The route is completely urban, but there’s the odd tree lined boulevard; Credit Lyonais have made the effort and there are surprises like the huge Chinese hotel, the fake mountain and the crazy pompiers (that’s firemen to us!).
But there’s the sign we’ve been looking for and there’s Notre Dame – and Paris wouldn’t be Paris without her statues.
Dump the car and get to work:
There’s the odd banner for Tommy but not as much as you might expect.
And some fans are looking for the real low down.
The Schleck fans are resigned; ‘we’ve been here for the last week, it’s a big disappointment but I knew that Andy needed three minutes going into he time trial.
He had that lead on the Galibier, but Cadel pulled him back.
It’s a fair result and Cadel is a good guy, not like Contador, the people of Luxembourg haven’t forgiven him for attacking Andy last year, when his chain came off.
No regrets from the Aussies, though; ‘we were on l’Alpe d’Huez; Dutch Corner was crazy, there’s no way we were stopping there!
We rode the time trial course at Grenoble in the morning, it was very technical.
We watched it on the big screen at the start/finish but even when Cadel became leader on the road we couldn’t really relax and get excited – he was taking so many risks we thought he was going to crash.
It was the time trial of Cadel’s life.
And the Cav fans were there, complete with ladder and union flag; ‘Cav’s something special, but so is his team, it’s the best.
Brad? crashes are part of bike racing, aren’t they – we’ve all crashed in a race.’
It’s been a Tour of very mixed feelings for the Norwegian fans, four stage wins between Eddy and Thor but very much tempered by the horrific happenings back in the homeland; ‘We missed the stage wins, but were here for l’Alpe d’Huez.
We were at Grenoble for the time trial – Edvald was going very well but had to have a bike change, that was a disappointment for us.’
Some fans have mixed loyalties, a Rabobank top but Canadian domicile and hopes for one fan; ‘It’s been a mixed Tour for Rabobank, Sanchez took the stage but Gesink and Ten Dam both lost time in crashes.
Ryder must be disappointed after his 7th place last year; there was a lot of media interest last year and coming in to the Tour, this year – his performances certainly raised the profile of cycling in Canada.’
And the Tour isn’t the Tour without Dutch fans; ‘we’ve just come down for the day -we’re disappointed that Robert Gesink crashed but very proud of how Johnny Hoogerland rode.
But there’s also the slight matter of how you watch the race – you can use a park bench, or maybe dad will help, or mom, but there’s always a handy tree, or if you’re really lucky, there’s a Tour grandstand.
But some have to work; it’s not like the ‘good old days’ – there are tests on the last day, now; the Saxo guys will need pizza; the decals have to come off the vans and Versus are hovering for that exclusive.
And there’s a race on – the break scurries, the peloton consumes and Cav is king.
Time for treats; maybe some champers, or a fag, or just a handshake to say ‘well done,’ or some pilsner, or that pizza or maybe Geraint’s number – or maybe a ride with dad ?
But there’s always the ‘no rest for the wicked’ file – Andre Greipel and Dave Brailsford have to talk one more time and Graham Watson has to get those pictures away.
And a final curtain call for the stars of the show – even Cuddles’s car is in yellow.
But there’s not getting away from it – it’s time to go home . . . . .