Tour de PEZ: Cheerio Chaps!
It’s not everyday you get the freedom of your city but today was a great chance to pretty much get anywhere I wanted thanks to the ‘PEZ-Effect’: a little green sticker in my windscreen that was our green-light drive along the first stage on course down into the Garden of England – Kent.
We arrived in central London this morning and the crowds were already building as we flew down traffic-less streets amidst some of the most famous sights in the capital – a strange feeling indeed as London traffic ranks among the worst anywhere. Being waved through by ‘smiling’ police was something you’d not normally anticipate on London’s roads, the Tour just seems to bring out the best in people wherever it goes and the scene was set for another great day.
• First port of call had to be the Palace, obviously not being suitably attired I couldn’t go in for the Knighthood for services to PEZ, but when am I going to get this close again without getting my car towed away?
• Next up on the smile-o-meter, we bump into Pippo Pozzato and his girlfriend Chiara, both of whom were obviously enjoying the London start and the morning sunshine.
• Things only got more smiley as we watched the pre-stage ride roll through – 200 yellow jerseys in close formation. By our calculations not even Lance had that many.
As the stage rolled out crossing the Thames at Tower Bridge, we soon realized that the crowds were going to be as big all along the route – not just in the city. Kent was going to put on a show to rival the previous day, and we all love a Party.
• Luckily we had the full road to play with as usually this road past the Tower of London is solid traffic but not today as we payed tribute to the French with a lot of driving on the wrong side of the road.
• Onwards into the suburbs around Kent and the party atmosphere is everywhere… unless of course you were David Millar burying your head at around this point with only another 200km to go.
• Every lump and bump had a crowd on it as seen in Rochester, the Birth
place of Charles Dickens no less.
• No British stage would be complete without a traditional “Boozer” shot
and the great weather meant they all did a roaring trade along the route.
This little Pub really was about ‘halfway’ along the route and was
entering into the spirit of things.
• Just the reminder you need if it’s your first Tour, the DS has sent you
back down the convoy for 10 bottles and the bunch is doing
45kph… Cheers chaps!
• Kent certainly is a photogenic place… it’s just a shame I couldn’t
focus as we screached around this corner…
• The locals really made sure they got into the swing of things and every
junction seemed to have its own party thing going on.
• The final climb of the day was packed and although only 4th Cat, it enabled
Mr. Millar to take the Polka dot jersey. Now when did the Scots last have a Millar leading the mountains competition to cheer?
• The final hot spot sprint of the day at Tenterden again produced a great atmosphere as the break was still away with around 3 minutes lead. It rapidly fell shortly after, as did a few of the riders, including Robbie Mac – but when you’re as hard as he is you don’t let a little road rash get in the way of Green.
Let me introduce you to the Tour’s newest character: “No-shit Sherlock” out on the course regularly looking for clues throughout the next 3 weeks. It’s a real French thing and no one really knows why, but hey, has anyone really got a true rationale on the Devil? – vive La Tour!
• And finally … those copywriters are just so clever, proving a well placed ad will stop you in your tracks. At least it stopped us long enough to take a photo and discuss how we could work this into the report…
So smiles all round for a fantastic stage through some very pretty English
countryside watched by so many people that I reckon the Tour will be
back in Britian very soon – let’s hope so.