The main thoroughfare of Daglan does not have, to put it politely, generous proportions — an Avenue des Champs-Elysées it is not. So when my wife Jan and I were waiting for the bike riders in this year’s Tour de Dordogne to race through our village yesterday, we had some concerns. As it turned out, the riders themselves were fine. But for some of the early support vehicles, things got sticky.
First, let me quickly describe the Tour de Dordogne. Put simply, the Tour is a junior version of the Tour de France, which is taking place now and which is big news for virtually the whole month of July. The Dordogne version, by contrast, lasts just five days — but that’s still some serious bike racing.
Over the five days, the riders will travel around the entire département of the Dordogne (where the Greater Daglan Area is located), and these are the distances they will do each day: Stage 1: 155 kilometres; Stage 2: 160 kilometres; Stage 3: 103; Stage 4: just 12 kilometres (individual time trials); and Stage 5: 164. Grand total: 594 kilometres, or about 369 miles.
Jan and I have witnessed, up close and personal, two stages of the Tour de France, last year and the year before. (For a detailed view of what goes on, see “Fun and games at the Tour de France,” which I posted on July 28, 2012.) So we were keen to see what happens as the Tour de Dordogne dashes through Daglan in Stage 2 of this year’s race.
Around 2:30 yesterday afternoon, we walked up to the main square, got ourselves positioned for a good look, and waited. After 10 or 15 minutes, the advance vehicles starting pouring into the village — vans and trucks and cars, some painted with team colours, others sporting the logos and names of advertisers, and so on. For example:
And here’s another one:
Now here’s where it gets interesting. As you’ll see, this Vital Concept Hydrachim van is moving forward, but is approaching an area where the road becomes the most narrow, with a nice bend in it that makes driving even trickier. Ahead of it is a blue van that is bound and determined to squeeze through the narrow gap between buildings. Unfortunately, a huge SICTOM garbage truck is coming from the other direction:
So now we are really stuck — blue van headed north from the village, huge garbage truck trying to come into the village:
At this point, normal etiquette would be for the smaller vehicles (the vans) to back up, and let the larger vehicle (garbage truck) move forward and pass. But the drivers of these vans must feel that they are very special, because they’re in advance of the Tour de Dordogne, so they are committed to squeezing through. And so here is the blue van pulling sharply to the right and trying to go around the garbage truck — whose driver is looking increasingly frustrated and bewildered:
Now you might think that would be the end of it. But no — look ahead. There is the trusty Vital Concept van trying to get through the narrowest section, but coming head-to-head with yet another large van coming into the village:
So now the Vital Concept van is forced into the embarrassing position of having to try backing up, yet again, to let the other vehicle through:
And now, at last, the van coming into the village can proceed, and the Vital Concept vehicle can also move forward. For your interest, the “Colnago” on the front roofline of the white vehicle refers to an Italian company that makes high-end road racing bikes, while the Vendée Conseil Général on the nose of the van refers to the administration of the Vendée département on the Atlantic coast of France, a fair bit north of the GDA:
Good thing, because a huge rush of vans, cars and (somewhat later) racing bike riders were to roar through the village. Here’s one of the first cars in the lead:
As for the race itself, I’ll save that for tomorrow’s posting.