... at the team bus. Yes, you can't see much of the race, because you have to go there quite early to take a good place, and then must wait a long while, hours if the bus is parked far away from the arrival. Anyway that is MY place, the place I prefer. I'm too small to like the finish line, where usually I see nothing or, in the best case, am rudely pushed against the barrier by enormous men or hysterical women.
I like a little more the start, where racers are fresh and clean, often smiling – the race is still a promise – sometimes sleepy, specially in a tour – and make a compact multicolor group: joking, chating, posing for a picture. The problem with the arrival is that nothing is decided yet, all is to happen, faces are anonymous in a certain way, even if we know the most of those guys, recognise their expression and behaviour, their typical way to prepare, to wait on the line, and often also their aim in the race or stage. Somebody is nervous because it's an important day, somebody else is too relaxed, because the game is over for him, somebody is angry or sad for some wrong stuff passed in the past days and of course there is somebody who makes difficult to detect his feeling and seems to hide himself in the peloton like a camaleont. Interesting, yeah. But a little too vague to me. The drama is at the arrival, a few meters over the line.
Another option is to watch the race passing on the road. That could be a good choice in a mountain stage with the arrival far from the hardest climb. You have to go early and bring all with you, maybe a tent to sleep in the grass beside the road, something to eat, because there is nothing around: no bars, no toilets, often no trees. Hard but cool: the breackers arrive reasonablely slowly, you can see them suffering on their bikes – sadism for sure is a part of cycling supporting – and 90% important things happen there.
Bordeaux stage was a flat one, nothing special to see if not on the line. But our hotel was booked in Arcachon so the guide wanted us to stop and watch the race passing. No way! We organized a protest and forced the bus to the arrival. Well, a few kms before, but in Bordeaux: then we had to walk and spreaded all long the barriers, looking for our favourite place at races. The mine is at the team bus, but I took the time to have a look to the city, that is impressive. The finish was long the river, with the old palaces and monuments at your left and a nice park at your right. Just before the tribune – I hate tribunes: they aren't democratic at all – there were a big screan and people had a good time siting on the grass and watching the race. Anyway there were people watching everywhere: at the barriers of course, standing on bankets and rubbish baskets and also on the trees – lucky adventurous tall guys who made me definitely envious. I completely snobed the sprint (won by Cav) and followed the signal "Equipes".
The weather was cloudy and a bit rainy, but after a while it got better and finally the sun was as hot as espected in a classic Tour de France. When I reached the team buses area only a Cervelo car and the BMC bus were there, but the show was very interesting: three or four volunteers in yellow jakets waited at the entrance of a narrow street just behinde the arrival, opened and closed a barrier to let pass the team busses and addressed them at their places. Parking a bus isn't easy but in that case was particularly difficult and I couldn't avoid to think to Danny, the Saxo Bank driver, who - unluckly for me - wasn't there. I waited for the Saxo Bank bus to park and went to the big screan, where I found some Luxembourgers of mine.
Only few journalists and supporters were already at the bus when I came back, but in few minutes it got really crowded around there. I found my perfect place: in front of the bus door and behind a barrier, so nobdy could stay between me and the racers who were just arriving. I am very proud of the pictures I took there by my new camera and were happy to meet the Sexy Bankers again. Jens specially! He was all bruised because of the last crash but friendly as usual, ready to make happy journalist and supporters with signatures and interviews. A little girl near me wanted his signature but was so small that Jens couldn't notice her. - Call him – I told, but she was shy and Jens busy with a tv reporter so I touched his side with my hand saying: - Oh! Jens! -. He looked down and the girl had her paper signed. My good action of the day.
However I was there for egoistic reasons. I wanted – ehm! Needed! - to see Andy. Not the right place to chat ok, but to say Ciao it was fine. Unfortunately for me and for all the little fans waiting there – incredible how children love him – Andy didn't come and the team bus left without him. He must attend to the white jersey podium cerimony and probably to many interviews and I guess after that he went straight to the hotel. I instead went straight to my bus, making my personal record in speedy walking: 3 kms in 20 minutes to be there in time and then we left to Arcachon.
I didn't ate that night, took a long long long shower and went to sleep. Andy said to L'Equipe he changed is mind: the Tour wasn't finshed yet and who was in jellow on the Tourmalet wasn't going for sure to wear it in Paris. He didn't give up. Everybody smiled: the next stage was a TT, then the parade to the Champs Elysés. No way for a no-cronomen and no-sprinter to keep an hope. In spite of that Andy said he was going to make the TT of his life. And he did!
Pic by me