Paris-Nice 2016 – Stage 6

My mom tends to remember my birthday because it lands on an old friend’s – Mr. Dennis. My wife might be the same because she knows that it always lands around the time we drive to Nice for the weekend to take photos of impossibly skinny dudes in lycra (ISDIL).

This year the organizers made the weekend even better by having the last two stages start in Nice; one with a mountain-top finish, and the other along the Promenade des Anglais, comme d’habitude.

And whenever I go anywhere that involves cycling, it’s ‘business’, too (hard still to separate that and ‘pleasure’, but I’m trying), so we checked out an all-too-rare ‘cycling cafe’ in the Old Port of Nice – Café du Cycliste. The irony of this cafe is that they are actually a clothing brand and I always thought that they must have a cafe somewhere. Turns out it was only in the name until last year, when they finally opened one up. CdC sell their kit here (beautiful and expensive), of course, but also rent bikes (beautiful and expensive), serve coffee (beautiful and not really that expensive), have Sunday groups rides and have a change room with showers in the back. I didn’t want to leave.

Race start. Even with the upgraded security we noticed this year, we had free access to the team bus area, where you get to literally rub shoulders with (or get hit by) pro cyclists, as they ride up to sign in and get announced. Here is Beppu, the only remaining Japanese rider in the peloton, as far as I know. 

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Cadel Evens, here for what, I have no idea. But it was cool to see. 2016-03-12 11.08.30

Tom Dumoulin, the most French-sounding Dutch rider out there.

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And me, lost in it all.

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After a burger at Big Fernand (living in Nimes you have to get the culture when you can), we hopped in the car and drove deep into the arrière pays and planted ourselves as best we could on the last climb of Stage 6 – just above the village of Utelle.

We didn’t have a good mobile connection up there, so were glad that the helicopter was there to let us know the boys were coming.

 

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Seconds before Contador’s first ill-fated attack.

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Thomas near the back, pouting all the way.

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The beauty of watching a mountain stage, particularly on the last climb, is that you get some serious bang for your buck: from the Contador group to the last riders we saw before heading back from the car, it must have been 15 minutes or so, with bunch after bunch passing us. The guys in the back are all chatty and cheery now that their work is done – one rider even took a bag of chips off a spectator behind us and munched them on the climb. The things you don’t see on France 3….

 

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5 thoughts on “Paris-Nice 2016 – Stage 6

  1. Hi Gerry,
    We must have almost been ‘neighbours’ on the mountain judging by your pictures. We positioned ourselves about 7-8km from the top so we could see deep down the valley beyond Ucelle and above the lacets. Spectacular views and position. It was funny seeing them come up small and ant like and asking “is that the motorcycles or the cyclist”. Incredible speed. Contador et al are amazing. Lots of pics. Our fellow Canadian Antoine Duschene was outstanding getting the polka dot jersey. Even got a closeup as he was struggling carrying huge trophy on bike after ceremony.

    • Ah, too bad we never exchanged numbers. Would have been good to see you again. You must have been below the village, then. We were going to stop there, but tried to get as close to the top as we could. Not sure it was the best idea because we ended up needing to go back to Nice on a different, dodgy, road! And yeah, very cool that Antoine won the jersey. Looking forward to his Classics campaign because he is meant to be riding most of the big ones.

      • I emailed you last week but maybe you don’t use that Langedoc address anymore. I should have tried your mobile if it’s the same one. Plan to plod up Mont Ventoux this year so maybe try then to see if you’re around. Sunday was great too. Got to see the start then watched the mountain segment before the finish at the local Irish pub around the corner, then zipped out to see the finish. Thought Contador had it in the bag when we left the pub so was surprised that Thomas caught up in the short few minutes to the finish. Incredible speed in that home stretch.

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