Front row at the Tour de France — Part 1

As promised in yesterday’s posting, today was our day to visit the Tour de France, as the cyclists raced through the streets of Figeac. The bottom line? It was a rush!

Even though the cyclists speed past so quickly that you can’t identify anyone (especially when you’re taking photos at the same time), we found the whole experience rewarding and exciting and well worth the trip. Because there is so much to convey (including a lot of photos), I’ll break the story into parts. Today I’ll just focus on the actual race.

We had a great place from which to watch — right at the front edge of a sidewalk at a wide, sweeping corner, where the cyclists had to turn left. By 2 o’clock, my wife Jan and I were already in place, knowing that the first riders would be coming through around 3 p.m. And yet there was already lots of action, as cars and motorcycles kept whizzing through.

And then, finally, we saw the first signs of the breakaway pack. Here they come:

TDF breakaway 1

In the distance, the first sighting of the breakaway pack.

In a flash, they were upon us, turning hard. Note the traffic sign above them, showing the way to Aurillac — which is where today’s stage began.

TDF breakaway 2

The breakaway boys lean into the turn.

And then came a procession of team cars — presumably, the teams represented in the breakaway. Here’s one:

Team car 1

A team car following the breakaway pack.

And another group of team cars:

TDF cars

Team cars keeping on coming.

And another one shoots past us:

TDF team car

The last of the team cars immediately after the breakaway gang.

After a few minutes, the main group of riders — the peloton — appear in the distance, like this:

TDF pelaton 1

In the distance, you can see a mass of riders.

Now they are getting closer:

TDF pelaton

The peloton comes closer -- quickly.

Now they’re here — and turning hard, just as the breakaway group did a few minutes earlier:

TDF pelaton

The peloton is arriving in full force.

And here’s a final look at the pack, before they disappear into the centre of Figeac and beyond:


The main pack of riders shoots past our front row seats.

Finally, the rest of the team cars followed. Here are just a few of them, starting with Lampre:

Team car

Another team car goes past.

And here comes Quick-Step:

Team car

The Quick-Step team car, loaded up with bikes.

And now my personal favourite team — because it’s the team of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal:

Team car

The Garmin-Cervélo team car drives on by.

I should point out that Ryder never did stop and chat with us, despite the fact that we were madly waving our Canadian flags. but he probably had other priorities. Sadly, it seems that after Stage 10 ended, he had dropped a few positions in the overall standings, going to 52nd overall from 43rd overall at the end of the 9th stage.

But chin up: Tomorrow I’ll have more on the Tour — including how to get information, where to park yourself, and where to have lunch. Well, at least in Figeac.

This entry was posted in Life in southwest France, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Front row at the Tour de France — Part 1

  1. Suzanne says:

    How exciting!! Can’t wait to hear about the lunch tomorrow…

  2. Shirley Doyle says:

    How exciting, can’t wait to watch the coverage tonight and see if we can spot you both in the crowd!

  3. Love the play by play… glad you saw it. I can’t imagine the speed, even in the corners.

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