Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tour de France Day #2: Les Essarts

After an awesome first day at Le Tour de France in Les Herbiers, we were pumped and ready to head to Les Essarts for the team time trials.  If you don't know the Tour or haven't watched in the past, a time trial is a road race for a team of cyclists.  They are racing against the clock and essentially the rest of the teams in the tour.  For their time to be counted, 5 members of the team have to finish.  Teams start at equal intervals so when the first team starts, the rest of the teams follow every 10-15 minutes later.  So the first day, we only saw riders for about 20 minutes, which was actually longer than usual because of a crash a few kilometers out.  But on this stage, we were ready to see riders for several hours.

Once again, we had about an hour and half ride to the town of Les Essarts, parked for free, then headed to the route.  For the time trials, they typically use a circuit, so they start and end a roughly the same place.  We found the route, and found the spot we wanted.  With this route being smaller and in the same town, the fans were more centrally located in the same area.  Today, we settled at the 350km to go mark.  We put down the bamboo mat that we got for 2.50 euro and settled in to sit and wait.  

As we waited today, several teams were taking practice runs which was cool to see.  And as with the day before, the caravan went through and we got more free stuff.  
Now, we just sit and wait for the race to start.  Another day at the tour, another happy guy.
 Walking around before the race, we got to play around a bit.
 Walking the route.
 Yay!  We got a skoda hat.
 Look at all the free stuff we got, even before the caravan started.  That's why we like being so close to the end.  Even before the race starts all the sponsors come give things out to those near the finish line.
 Let the races begin,  Not as good of a picture of the yellow guy this time.

So we sat through the caravan again and got all sorts of goodies to take home and give to friends.  Before the real riders came through, there was a group of older men who were riding for a charity similar to Make a Wish.  
 Here's the neutral mechanic car.

I'm just going to say it now, I didn't post too many pictures of the time trial because, frankly, I didn't get that many great shots.  The riders flew by so so fast that even in sports mode, I couldn't get too many shots.  Here is what I have. 
BMC team coming by for a warm up.
 Between teams enjoying the tour.

 I think this is Francaise des Jeux.
 Team Rabobank

 Garmin-Cevelo--Thor had the polka dot jersey.
 Europcar.  This was the local team from Vendee so whenever they came through, the crowd went crazy.
 It was hot.
 Me with the panach girl.  Panach is a refreshing drink of lemonade (sprite) and beer.
 My only goal for the final team was to get a picture of the millio jaune.  And that I did!
 Ange won the race for AG2R.
 Look at all the free stuff we got at our two days at the tour.  My favorite was the green umbrella Panach hat.

Stage 2 Results:
1. Team Garmin-Cevelo (Yay, USA!!)
2. BMC
3. Leopard-Trek

That concludes are experience with Le Tour de France.  We've already started talking about the next time we go, because there definitely WILL be a next time.  We would like to go to the start of a stage because that is where the riders hang out and sign things before the race starts.  Who knows when we will get back there, but we would also like to see a mountain stage.  They are the most exciting stages, but you have to get there and camp for a week before the stage so we'd have to rent a camper, which would be pretty fun.  

I hope you've enjoyed our recap of the tour.  We continue to relive it everyday, especially as we watch it on Versus. 

Next up: Chateau de Chenonceau

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