Yes, we actually went to Le Tour de France. And it was AWESOME!!!! No joke, probably one of the coolest things we have ever done. If you did not know, Andrew is a huge cycling fan. He has been watching the tour for as long as he can remember and knows all the teams and cyclists, so this was definitely on his must see before he dies list. We can now check it off the list.
The first stage of the tour this year ended in Les Herbiers. About an hour drive from Le Bois, we were really close considering we didn't know where the tour would go when Dad booked the gite. So on the first stage, we drove to Les Herbiers and followed the signs to the tour. They were really organized and had huge parking lots on fields to use. And the parking was free! So we parked and followed the crowds to the finish line. The finish on this stage was actually up hill, a category 4, on Mont des Allouettes.
We were really there!
Dad and Ange got new hats.
1km to go to the top.
Paint on the road for Voeckler.
The Versus Studio. Paul, Bob and Phil were actually up there.
Lookin' good baby. He was so happy to be here.
Once we found the route, we walked a couple of km up and down the hill to find the best spot to watch. We got to see the finish line, the podium and all the food and apparel shops. It was quite the hike to the top, I can't imagine riding it on a bike. We picked our spot at the 500 km to go mark. We had room to set out a bamboo pad to sit on and just wait and watch all the people. We got settled in and had about 5 hours to wait for the riders. Dad and Kelly would go for a walk, Ange and I would go for a walk. We sit and just hang out for while, get up and walk again. The sponsors would come by with water, hats, candy and other things to keep us occupied as well. It was probably 75-80 degrees and sunny. We did get quite a bit of sun that day, but we were never really dieing of heat.
Andrew liked the new hat on me better.
The route, on the side of a truck.
Enjoying our freebies and waiting for the riders.
Dad and Kelly waiting.
I got to stand near the 500km to go post because it had a step up and I could get good pictures.
A cool pictures of Ange's hands and American flag.
Also had to have our Iowa flag!
Ready for the riders.
Oh yeah, before the caravan started, there were other things that came by. First the team buses, these are only the USA teams, I didn't think you would want to see every other team bus.
HTC-Highroad. The bus of Mark Cavendish (Green jersey-best sprinter) and new rider from US-Tejay Van Garderen.
Team Radioshack. Bus for Chris Horner, Andreas Kolden and Levi Leipheimer (one of my faves). Although Chris and Andreas have since been abandoned.
Team Garmin-Vervelo. Bus for Thor Hushovd, new rider Tommy Danielson, sprinter Tyler Farrar, David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie.
I did not get a good picture of BMC the other American team.
Before the caravan, the junior riders come by.
So one thing you don't get while watching the tour on TV is all the extra stuff that goes along with it. The amount of fans, the number of cars/trucks that follow the tour for set up and take down, the caravan, oh the caravan. The caravan was probably the one thing that we had no idea about while only watching the tour on TV. You don't get to see the actual parade, just all the things left behind after they pass. The caravan is like a parade of all the sponsors and they just throw things out to you like a parade. But it is way more than just candy like I stated earlier. It came through about 2 hours before the riders did and it lasted about an hour. Some of the big sponsors are Vittel water, Carrefour, LCL, a bank, Nesquick, Haribo, and many, many more. (I'm not going to put all the pictures up here, just some of our favorites.)
Let the races begin!
The symbol of the race.
Skoda is a car company. They gave away white bucket hats.
We thought for sure this guy was going to tip over.
PMU gave away the big greens hands and lanyards.
Carrefour, the sponsor for the polka dot (best of the mountains) jersey. They gave away red polka dot cycling hats.
St. Michel, the official medeleine of the tour.
Team car for Radioshack.
Nesquick gave away chocolate packets for milk.
So I won't bore you with all the hundreds of pictures I took of the riders but I will put a couple of them up to show you just what we experienced.
Here come the riders!!
The police motorcade says they are coming.
And here they are, Fabian Cancellara leading the way.
Coming right at us.
There he is.
And here come the rest of the riders.
That's Alberto Contador.
We were ready for the riders to fly by us and only see them for like 2 minutes; however, that was not the case on this first stage. With out 9km to go, a cyclist clipped a fan and down the pelaton went, including Alberto Contador. So, because of the crash, there were 5 or 6 groups of riders than came through for about 15 minutes.
Frank Schleck heading back to his team bus.
So that's it for our first experience with the tour and it was incredible. Did I tell you that already? Cause I'm not sure you heard how great it was.
Results from Stage 1:
1. Phillippe Gilbert
2. Cadel Evans
3. Thor Hushovd
After a day of sun and biking, we were ready to head home and get ready for the next day, Stage 2: Team Time Trial.