This wasn’t my first encounter with the Tour de France, I’ve been to a couple of stages. For one reason or another, I’ve never been to the finish on the Champs-Élysées. I remember, it I was pretty close to come to Paris back in 2005, at the height of the Lance Armstrong era. At the time, I was still a clueless fanboy and I really, really wanted to go to Paris to see him win his last Tour de France. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do remember that my girlfriend at the time used some quite weird, emotional blackmailing and I ended up not going after a lot of drama. I guess she saved me from ending up owning lots of now-embarrassing LA paraphernalia, though I would never have gone as far as these people did.
Long story short, I was in Paris yesterday, to cover the second La Course by Le Tour women’s cycling race. It’s interesting that while everybody in the sport are pretty unhappy about almost all aspects of the race, which is essentially a city criterium race, with limited prize money, etc. But it is one of the very few races in the calendar that are broadcasted live and widely availably and it’s on the Champs-Élysées! So while everybody has problems with it, somehow the minor shortcomings take the backseat when the riders, helpers and journalist arrive and take in the majesty of the it. It’s like a super sportscar with a 1.2 Vauxhall Corsa engine in it. It would be so amazing, if…
I like bad weather. Bad weather makes life harder for everybody, especially for the riders, but it makes racing so much more spectacular. However, I would have swapped any of my shots for a crash-free race. It was hard to see all those crashes but it was inspiring to see how tough they are and carried on riding, regardless of wounds, cuts and bruises. And it was fascinating again to see the peloton, hurtling down at high speeds on the wet cobblestones lap after lap, fighting for positions, looking after leaders, chasing down breakaways.
I was on a motorbike and while it felt a bit like an overkill, it made moving around an awful lot easier, so all in all it was a good decision. I just hope, Sandra, my driver’s partner didn’t get cold in the rain, while we were driving up and down on the other side of the barriers.
Next up is the next World Cup race in Germany, the Sparkassen Giro. It will be another circuit race, though the laps will be longer. Stay tuned for more on Sunday!