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Le Tour Stage 11 and 12, France

Watching the pros ride what we road… just a little bit faster

sunny 70 °F

Thanks to the Picards we had a quiet comfy mountain chalet all to ourselves on the top of what is a ski resort in the winter. After the previous epic ride day we slept well and woke up the following morning to find that a small city had been built overnight to support Le Tour de France Stage 11 finish line (Albertville to La Toussuire)! It was amazing to see how much portable housing and broadcasting offices were needed at the finish! Then there are all the team buses that are fully equipped with bike shop, numerous spare bikes, sterilizers for water bottles and a washing machines for the racer’s cycling kit.

We made our way through all the equipment and setup for the finish to find the tour being shown live on a big screen TV. The crowd was very excited, especially for all the freebies being handed out. We picked up a yellow hat, a pok-a-dot hat, some candy, and of course baguette samples from a life sized baguette man!

For a midday siesta we tried to be as French as possible by grabbing a fresh baguette and heading back to the chalet for some Rosé wine. We then headed back to the action to secure a spot near the finish line and podium. As the finishers came through the shoot we watched how they were totally bombarded by the media before even getting off the saddle. If you see an interview with Peter Velits (SVK), you’ll see Kevin frantically waving at the camera and giving his best smile.

The podium awards were handed out very shortly after the racers finished, we suppose it’s because the riders need to start eating their 4,000 calories in preparation for the next day’s ride and the mini city has to be transported to the next city for tomorrows finish. So less than an hour after the race finished, equipment was being torn down, things were being packed up, and bikes were being washed and turned up for tomorrow.

We descended to St Jean de Maurienne the following morning just in time for the historic caravan (parade) of Tour sponsors. We didn’t realize that the caravan full of sponsor cars and makeshift floats ride 2 hours ahead of the riders along the whole course, tossing out shwag to the masses of spectators. Baguette Man ws back, but this time with his entourage of baguette covered cars!

After the caravan had passed, we headed to what looked like a podium where everyone was lining up to see the riders. Then, almost one by one, the riders came up to the podium and signed their name as a type of roll call before Stage 12 began (Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux). This was where the hard core enthusiasts were waiting to grab a signature of their favorite rider.

We rode the alternate route back to the top of La Toussuire and imagined what it might be like to live in one of the cute little mountain villages. We agreed that if we did live up here, we’d have to get a different bike for each day of the week. That way we could coast downhill into the office, and just pick up all the bikes from town at the end of the week with a truck.  It would take a bit of planning but wouldn’t compare with the amount of planning that goes into the Tour de France! The Tour is definitely a spectacle to see, and must be a logistical nightmare getting the whole mini city to travel every day to a new place. Most impressing is how many support vehicles follow the riders! There must have been over 40 wagons with more bikes and spare wheels than the entire number of racers. It was very inspiring to see the cyclists and knowing firsthand how hard the hills are that they ride. Maybe next time we’ll follow the tour with a campervan or better yet a sag wagon!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 03:02 Archived in France

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You are hilarious, love you. Vive le Tour! Love the last photo btw :)

by Megan DiBiase

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