It takes hours of map studying and meticulous consideration to element to make sure a profitable Tour de France, and that is simply the spectators. I had ready and deliberate out a route that may land me near the top of stage 11 of the Tour, a 164km journey for the cyclists from Saint Flour to Figeac.
However hundreds of different individuals had the identical concept so it was a sluggish crawl by means of the streets of Figeac, within the Lot, earlier than I discovered myself about 7km from the top of the race. The village of Saint Jean Mirabel had come out in drive with good luck messages and flags arrange beside the route, and even an enormous poster suspended between three tractors.
Then because the chief approached, with helicopters buzzing within the air, the cheers from the spectators started to develop. A small determine, hunched over his bicycle out of the blue got here into view on the prime of the street, dwarfed by the police bikes, tv cameras and official automobiles beside him.
And earlier than my digital camera might focus he was gliding by in a bubble of full focus, his machine silently slicing via the wind. Then the gang caught its breath, getting ready for the arrival of the pursuing pack, or peloton. However earlier than they arrived there was a battle for second and third place happening as the 2 males shot previous in a blur of orange, blue and white.
5 minutes later the peloton appeared on the prime of the street with police sirens blaring and one other helicopter hovering shut by within the clear, blue sky. This was a a lot nosier affair with the followers screaming for his or her favourites and the push of air like a passing truck, filled with the sounds of drugs modifications and rubber on street. If the main cyclists are like small fish, darting off by way of the rocks, the peloton is an all-consuming wave that crashes down on the leaders who falter.
And like a wave it isn’t all the time clear on whom it will fall as over 100 cyclists pour down the street you have to avoid the sting as some briefly go astray. However because the pack heads off up the street, the crowds additional on are hit by the wave with cheers and automotive horns echoing within the distance.
Then as the previous few cyclists experience by, nonetheless working arduous to remain within the race, the Tour involves an in depth, however what of the start? The build-up to the passing of the Tour begins earlier within the day and takes place on the grass verges and within the fields that border the route.
Villages put together fetes, novice cyclists journey up and down the path to see what the professionals will face and youngsters prepare for the caravane. An hour earlier than the race truly arrives the sponsors’ cavalcade drives previous with their loopy automobiles, disco music and freebies. Right here you see espresso pots, inflatable geese and even an enormous, furry lion parading previous throwing sweets, magazines and toys on the ft of the youngsters stood beside the street.
The followers scream and shout hoping to select up some goodies as mother and father duck and dive out of the best way of stray packets of espresso, which fly previous their heads. Because the Tour began in 1903 it has grow to be one of many world’s main sporting occasions and may lay declare to possessing the most important variety of spectators.
And it’s the followers that make the Tour such a spectacle, as they stretch out alongside greater than three,500km of tarmac, shouting and screaming encouragement because the wave passes by. However immediately the fishes out ran the wave and a breakaway by native rider, David Moncoutie proved robust sufficient to offer the Frenchman his first-ever stage win.