Half an Afternoon in Provence

Keeping the tradition alive, Shoko and I drove over the river to see a stage of the Tour de France, which is flying through Languedoc at the moment. I’d had plans on parking in Maussane-les-Alpilles and walking up through the olive groves to the only categorized climb of the day at Les Baux de Provence, but it was a warm one today and the shaded lanes of Maussane looked just fine.


While we were waiting Shoko searched in vain for my good side.


Across the road from our perch was what looked to me like a bit of overkill on the signage. Does anyone have an idea what the yellow one is doing?


The peloton came and went in a flash, with yellow jersey Simon Gerrans hiding from view behind his Orica Greenedge teammates.


And Shoko took some video. I’ve kept it its full length because I thought the extended version showing the train of vehicles behind gave a glimpse of the logistical immensity of this race. These cars, vans and motorbikes were preceded, by the way, by 2 hours of the same, with the publicity caravan to boot. It’s a pretty impressive sight to see from beginning to end. Just get there early to secure your plane tree.


15 thoughts on “Half an Afternoon in Provence

  1. One of the bad things about watching closed road stage races is that you don’t get a clear view of the riders coming towards you because of the large number of motorcycles in the way. Those shady trees looked inviting. Thank Shoko for the video.

    • Mountain stages are much more interesting, if you’re far enough up to have the riders stretched out. Still, it wasn’t a bad few hours.

  2. I can just imagine the glee on Shoko’s face….she must really love you… to humor you for over 2 hours and then see the peloton blow by at 40kph…hope you caught one of those really cool KOM hats and a Cofidis keychain..(thats the crap I caught last year) 🙂

  3. Having never stood on the side of the road of any pro race and only watched them on TV, one doesn’t get the true magnitude of the logistics involved. Thanks for sharing.
    BTW – you’re looking pretty railed down.

  4. Shoko is a very patient woman. After the peloton flew by, my wife would turn to me and say, “We sat here for hours for THAT?!?!” Of course, you can’t beat the price, can you? And you spent a lovely spell under some shade trees, which cannot be overstated.

  5. I caught the Grand Départ in London a few years back. It started with a prologue and of course beforehand all the riders were casually riding up to assess the route, so that was cool. We got a bit more relaxed view. And if you got tired of standing on the side of the road, you could go sit in Hyde Park and watch it on the massive screens. A great all day event. You really got a sense of the wind from your video.

    • We did the same thing in Monaco in 2009 and it was a completely different experience from the road. Yeah, it was howling there yesterday. John was on his bike and said there were some ‘Ventoux moment’s of ferocity.

  6. Nice video! I’ve been to the US Pro Championships, and even there was impressed by the logistics. Part of the fun is seeing all the support vehicles come by, then waiting in anticipating of the riders, who are mostly a blur as they speed by. The TdF in your video seems to have about 10x the support as what I experienced.

  7. Thanks for the video. I saw the Pro Tour once when it came through our city. There was a rise in the road and I don’t think I will forget the thrill of seeing a mass of bobbing helmets rise from the tarmac getting closer and bigger.

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