The Tour de France ended in Paris yesterday, and thanks to Karsten, Sarah and the TGV, I was there to see it! After being graciously met at Gare de Lyon by the two of them, Karsten and I hustled over to Place de la Concorde to get some photos for the blog. It was around 6 hours before the peleton would arrive, but the truly committed were already staking out their places on the barricades.
It’s not as insane as it seems, actually, since this spot (and lots others) would allow these fans to see the riders at least 8 times (or possibly 9…clear it up for me, if you know the answer). You see, the last stage of the Tour, apart from being nearly completely ceremonial, involves 8 loops around central Paris, on a route designed to highlight the most famous of the famous sights in the city. The race ends on the Champs Elysées, not too far from where we are standing above.
This is the ‘flame rouge’, the air-filled gate that signifies one kilometer to go till the end of the race. To the right is the Louvre, a little museum you may have heard of.
Nearly satisfied, Karsten suggested renting bikes from the city’s excellent Vélib system…
K and S live right on the route coming into the city this year (I’ve had a bit of luck with well-situated friends this Tour), so we could just wait in their apartment till we heard the ruckus of the caravan, then scoot down and watch it come by.
That’s Sarah taking photos, hopefully on sports mode…they were really roaring by us. I suppose it was because they don’t throw stuff when there are barricades, or possibly, after 3 weeks of fake smiles and happy waves, everyone was just in a hurry to get it all over with. Anyway, it meant no saucisson for me on this day.
When the excitement was done, we went back upstairs, cracked open a beer, and watched the champagne slurping and back slapping that is an integral part of the last day of the Tour. The riders were, however, sobered up and a little more serious once then came by the apartment. Just before they arrived, we ran down to the barricades with our stools (excellent idea Sarah!) and got instantly good views.
Here is BMC leading the peloton into the city.
And a lucky shot of Tour winner Cadel Evans (in yellow, if you’ve been living on Mars for the past couple of days), Swiss Champ Fabian Cancellara, always-the-bridesmaid Andy Schleck, and Green Jersey winner Mark Cavendish.
And that was that. We went back once again to the apartment and watched the rest of the Tour on France 2, Cavendish unsurprisingly winning the sprint once again, and Cadel Evans finally getting his just desserts and winning la plus belle course in the world.
This year’s Tour was one of the most satisfying and exciting I’ve seen, and made even better by friends, new and old. If the peloton ever comes by my place, you are all invited. A l’année prochaine!