Le Tour. Yes, you know which one…

Yesterday TC and I joined a friend and rode out to see Le Tour go past.  Yes, you do know which tour I mean!

One of the things I love about it is that it goes all around the country, giving so many local people the opportunity to go our & see it in their area and cheer the riders on. It came within 20km of our home on this stage and we decided to go to a spot between Montagnac and Villeveyrac where there are some small hills, so we could get a good view of them coming up a rise. The map in that link gives you a good idea of our region.

Once we arrived, we stopped in front of a pretty vineyard (and some of the locals came up to chat, telling us what good wines they sell there) and before we knew it the caravan was coming up the road. For the uninitiated, the caravan is the parade of sponsor promotion vehicles which are like small floats, equipped with loudspeakers, music and people throwing out free goodies to the crowds.

After the caravan, we sat in the shade and enjoyed our picnic of freshly made baguette sandwiches (filled with leftover chicken from coq au vin, fresh ham, fromage & salad) and of course good red wines. Thanks to the caravan, we enjoyed some madeleines as a little treat after our baguettes.  A relaxing hour was spent in the perfect summer weather until the sight and sound of 4 helicoptors coming over the hill announced the imminent arrival of the riders.  Two had gone out in a breakaway lead early in the stage, I don’t think they lasted very long.

Then it was time for the peloton.

Of course I was out in my Aussie gear to support our riders – in fact TC was waving the flag while I was calling out “Go Aussies” and one of the Orica Greenedge riders threw him his empty bottle. I also got one from the Movistar team, Score!!

Then it was all over so quickly… but what a good day out. We made our way home, past many cars & a few small traffic jams and accompanied by the occasional call of “allez allez allez!!!” from other tour fans driving past us. The views on the way there and back were just gorgeous, so enjoy our pictures!

Le Tour Mediterraneen 2013 – roadside stage 2

One of the great things about living in France is the chance to see international cycling events just about on our doorstep.

Today we went along to watch stage 2 of Le Tour Méditérranéen. This is a five-stage cycling event that is being held along various stretches between Limoux and Grasse. Today’s stage happened to be a 24km time trial between Cap d’Agde and Sète – an area we know very well as it’s one of our favourite routes.

The conditions weren’t great today. While there was lovely sunshine and not too many clouds, there was a very strong wind. We rode to Sète, had café near the canal at the western side of town, then braved the wind for as long as we could. Being a time trial stage, we didn’t get the fun of a peloton; it was each individual rider spaced about a minute apart, usually followed by a support vehicle. So after about an hour in that biting wind, we decided we’d had enough. Canal area, western Sete  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (1)  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (Photographer)  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (2)

During the time we stood roadside, the wind and sand were making a start on burying our bikes! Sete, by the beach  This was our view between riders Beaches at western Sete  view from Sete towards Agde  

Eventually we headed off, taking more pics along the way Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (3)  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (4)

Congratulations to the winner of today’s stage, Lars Boom, who averaged almost 45km/h in the wind followed by a climb up Mont St Clair in Sète (photo courtesy of the official FaceBook page for Le Tour Mediterraneen 2013)  – I know personally just how TOUGH and cold that wind was today! Lars Boom, winner Stage 2, Le Tour Mediterraneen 2013

There were a few spectators around the main roundabout in Marseillan Plage, but we probably forever remain mystified about why one particular Frenchman was calling out & pointing at us as we stopped to take some more pics, and again as we rode past him further down the road (well away from the race). We’ll probably never know if we committed some terrible crime by crossing the race-route at the crossing manned by about 6 police (who didn’t mind) or if he was just yelling in general about spectators or the race itself. Our French listening skills still aren’t that developed!

But the real drama of the day was the shock announcement that the planned 3rd stage (tomorrow) has been cancelled as the local prefecture authorities did not give their authorisation for the event. It seems many people are very disappointed and unhappy, as it seems the organisers were trying their best to come up with alternative routes to suggest to the authorities. This can’t be a good day for cycling in France.