Last weekend it was my birthday and it so happened that this year it happily landed on the weekend that the Paris-Nice pro race ended. The sun was out and it wasn’t overly cold, so Shoko and I hopped on the motorcycle for a spin to Nice. This year was a doubly good reason to see this race in Nice because the penultimate stage (today’s post) ended on the Promenade des Anglais, then the last decisive stage finished on the top of Col d’Eze with an Individual Time Trial starting at sea level in the city (patience. it’s coming tomorrow!).
One of the first things I noticed along the Promenade was a snazzy new bike-rental system called Vélo Bleu. The whole length of the La Prom of course has a cycling lane and I saw that most, if not all, bus lanes in town also allow two wheels, which is a good start for infrastructure, I’d say.
Not everyone rides a rental…
After a long walk we got to a decent spot, about 100 meters from the final where I was convinced we’d see the madness of a bunch sprint before our very eyes. This traveler apparently had the same idea. I wonder what he was so sad about though…
It was not to be, though, since the loud speakers told us that Thomas De Gendt (riding a Bianchi, I’ll have you know) was out in front with an 11 minute lead and that the peloton had given up the ghost long ago. No sprint for the win. But there was a very satisfied Belgian to watch. There must be no better way to win a stage than to have a long, beautiful stretch of road all to yourself, with plenty of time to zip up your jersey, clean your face, figure out which victory sign you’ll be giving this time, then sit up and cross the line in tranquility. He seemed satisfied with it, anyway.
There was a sprint, however, for 3rd place, and here it is. From front to back are: Greg Henderson, Thor Hushovd, and Jose Jauquin Rojas, completely missing the guy who actually won the sprint, I think – Degenkolb.
Excitement over, we made the long trek back to our hotel, enjoying the relative quiet of a March day on the Côte d’Azur (it ain’t like this in summer, trust me).