Stage 18


Stage 18
Saint-Étienne, France

Saint-Étienne, France

Hmmmmm, what did we do today? Oh, that’s right, we went to the races! We took our time this morning, no point in rushing since the lads don’t actually start riding until close to Noon. We strolled up the road to the station and hopped aboard the train, two of the other passengers we could see were also headed out to see the race. The station at Saint-Étienne is quite nice and the tram stop is right across the square, Leisure Suit Larry could take a lesson from Europe in how to implement light rail, every town has some form here it seems. We took the tram for a dozen stops or so then Elke asked the driver where we needed to go and we hopped off and walked up the road. You could not miss the place, the podium was set up and the press trucks and porta-studios were ready to go, not many people around yet. We walked along the course to the 1km flag then turned back to go find a nice vantage point. They actually remove some of the “traffic furnature” as Phil Liggett would say and the last few hundred metres were freshly paved and painted. We took up our spots just past the 200m post and in front of the giant screen so we could see what was happening on the stage. Not much was happening out on the road but they do keep you busy at the finish line. All of the sponsors have youngsters passing out hats, Nesquik, Vettell water, more hats, Haribo candies, PMU green floppy hands (foam, no cardboard), and more hats. All of this is happening prior to the carravan passing through and that happens about an hour before the first riders arrive. People were trying to squeeze into our long staked out spots when the carravan began to arrive, loaded down with more hats and hand outs, most of it not worth the effort to grab, but people do. The carravan is staffed by pretty young ladies and nice young men, all harnessed into their rolling saussage cars/giant tire/recycle box/case of Panache/Cheese wheel. Everyone waves and smiles and has a good time which is amazing given they’ve been on the road for hours. Finally the riders approach, they’re 5km out, we’ve seen the pet food supply place just around the corner from the 1km flag so we know when to get the cameras ready. The crowd begins banging on the barriers as they appear and in a flash they’re there and gone by, very cool!! We watch the chase group come through then the mass of the Peleton and the Lampre team nursing their injured rider and that was about it. We bought some Tour duds, gathered up our foam hands and after Elke snapped a shot of the winner, a German rider, through the fence, we headed back to Lyon. Lot’s of pretty good shots were got so I’ll post them at the next stop. A trip to the Tour is well worth the effort, too much fun!


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