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Friday, July 16, 2010

France and le Tour

A break from racing over the last week gave us the opportunity to head to France and see a bit of the Tour. We also caught up with good mate Keiran Hambrook who is over road racing in Morteau.

We left our base at Schaffhausen on the Thursday and spent the next couple of days in Morteau at Keirans flat. It was good to catch up with Keiran and meet Sam and Matt his team mates and we arrived at a perfect time with a carnival starting up next door to their flat. We even got the chance to see them race at a Friday night Crit race.

The Boys Before there Crit race.
The Carnival.

On the Saturday we made the drive down to Morzine to catch the Tour de France mountain top finish at Morzine Avoraiz on the Sunday, as well as the rest day and then stage start in the following days.
We decided that we would try a bit of camping to mix things up a bit. Luckily we managed to borrow a tent as it would have been a bit tight with two of us sleeping in the back of the VW. Our first campsite was on the other side of the Mountain from Morzine.

Campsite #1

Dinner, Check out the instant BBQ.

Sunday dawned and it was Tour time. First up we went for a spin up the mountain to suss out a good posse to view the race from. The atmosphere was building, the spectators were out painting riders names on the road and things were starting to get exciting. We rode the last 4km of the tour climb then ducked home to have a feed. From where we were camped we could take a gondola up to the finish line and we made sure we got there nice and early to get a good spot. We managed to squeeze in right against the barriers just before the 100m to go mark. It was perfect we could see all of the finish as well as the big screen so we saw all the attacks getting laid down before the summit.We took advantage off all the handouts from the race sponsors in the Tour caravan and settled in for the finish. It was a super exciting race with Andy Schleck attacking near the top and dropping every one bar Samuel Sanchez, but he was to strong at the finish starting his sprint right in front of where we were watching to claim the stage win.

Freebies at the Tour.

Andy Schleck about to out sprint Samuel Sanchez to take the stage win at Morzine Avoriaz.
The next day was the Tour rest day, a great chance to get up close to the riders as they went out training. I snapped a few photos of Cadel Evans as he posed for the press in his yellow jersey and I even saw TV commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen stuck in traffic in the middle of town.

Cadel Evans in Yellow on the Tour rest day.

Legends, Phill Ligget and Paul Sherwin.

We moved down from our mountain campsite on Monday night to a spot between Morzine and Les Gets so that we could be in a better position to view the start of stage 9 the following day.
I attempted to get back into town to see the riders warming up before the stage start but there were to many people and I couldn't get near the center of town. Instead I settled for the beginning of the stage proper at the end of the neutralised start section. Again the size of the event blew us away. The race caravan leaves several hours before the race start and right up until the riders come past the roads are packed with sponsors, media and team cars. Once the riders have gone by the team buses come along followed by any stragglers from the media. It takes several hours for the tour to pass by a point on the road. It really is an amazing event and it was great to get the chance to experience it first hand.

Campsite #2

The start of stage 9.

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