Started ce jour with the bells of Saint-Martin. Then, the adventure began!
Ode to Le Tour. Found it at a local marche…the bike of the maillot jaunt.
Knew it was going to be unbearably hot with the heat dome over Europe, fires burning.
I was thinking last night that although the Tour is winding through Limoux, the final stage before rest day on Monday was finishing in Carcassonne. I decided to take the bus (sometimes a train, not sure how it’s determined) and see what I could find. What I didn’t anticipate when I was riding into Carcassonne is the Tour route would effect our drop zone which is typically la gare, the train station. We made numerous detours and then landed in an area I wasn’t familiar. The driver, who apparently took a wrong turn and had to back the bus up…impressive…didn’t speak any English and after trying to communicate in my weak French, she mimed that I should follow the other people. Many didn’t know how to trek the long walk back to the train station, so we grabbed our phones and fired up our maps. Finally made it to the city center and just started looking for the tour. Already rationing my two large bottles of Perrier because of the heat with no idea what was about to unfold!
Then, the adventure began!
I spotted splashes of yellow. 🟡
I started trekking to find the route to the finish. I found a spot just past the finish line and since it was early and a lot of the spectators hadn’t filled in yet, I settled into my space.
There was music and announcing, and sponsors of the tour handing out all their tchotchkes. Very fun. A bike cap, a Skoda bag, a polyester vest…trop chard to wear…a bucket hat, too! Just like Emily in Paris. :)
My favorite sponsor gift and probably kept me from heat exhaustion, literally, was a sparkling canned beverage. Yummy. Their vender came back and gave me three more (!) and somebody else was handing out bananas. She was so sweet. Trop chaude! So grateful. It really helped.
I couldn’t sit on the asphalt because it burned my bum it was so hot. Five hours of standing in 41 C heat…106 Fahrenheit. Brutal. And so fun. I kept thinking about the guys racing in this heat. I was standing and trying not to pass out. They were biking hard and fast, sometimes their speeds clocked in at 72 KPH (45 MPH on the stage). Many climbs. The Tour put special heat protocols into place because of the dangerously high temperatures. Some of the guys, it was reported, wanted the stage to actually be cancelled due to the heat. With a warming climate and the devastation it is causing, maybe the Tour will need to be moved to the edges of the season in the Tours ahead. Our world is changing…fast.
When the riders get close, all the vehicles start driving in! The sponsors, the team buses, the team cars, the press motorcycles (So fun seeing Bradly Wiggins come in with his motorbike driver. And then there’s a fun parade with the sponsors and their vehicles.
Jumbo Visma’s bus! Many excited to receive it. When they went past, many in the bus didn’t look happy. Come to find out they lost two riders today, one to injuries over the course of the Tour, and another rider after a crash due to more protesters who were blocking the middle of the road.
The Tour is a massive and masterly organized operation; they set-up and tear-down for every stage and it’s all seemingly seamless.
That’s how they get those awesome finish shots. With the camera operator in place, we all knew it was getting close.
All the superfluous vehicles and dignitaries removed, it was quiet. Then the overhead finish screen, “4 kilometers to go!” Cameras ready, the pounding of the placards begins. And then the guys bolt around the final bend. Sprint finish! Wout in the green, couldn’t make out the other two, thought it might be Fabio Jakobsen from Quick Step who replaced Mark Cavendish. (Thought about him so much today; would love to have seen him.) I positioned my camera, hoped for the best, yet I wanted to watch it live! The clip worked although it was holding it low so I could see the riders! It was thrilling and so knock-out fast. How is that kind of power, control, and stamina able to be sustained after 106 degree weather and 202 kilometers! It’s nuts. Incredible, unbelievable athletes. They love Le Tour in Carcassonne. Moi Aussi. (Me, too!)
I’ve been trying for hours to get the video from my iPhone to this website…not working. So I did some screen captures. If I’m able to figure it out, I’ll edit and re-post later. Crazy exciting!
WOUT! Right in front of me!
And Sepp Kuss from Jumbo Visma. They’re going to need him so much now after losing two key riders. Incredible domestique and all around talented rider, 27 years old from Durango, Colorado. One of my favorites to watch. So happy I spotted him! Looks depleted and beat. Much needed rest day tomorrow.
The best. Vive Le Tour! 💛
And a sweet post-stage interview with the sprinting finish winner for stage 15, Jasper Philipsen. Rock ⭐️. He’s worked so hard for this moment. Very emotional. First stage win at the Tour. At the 12:15 mark.
AND! Images of the podium. So. Many. People. I was the only one I could see wearing a mask besides the riders and worker bee’s. 😳
The beast. Wout van Aert keeps the sprinter’s green!
Jonas Vingegaard keeps yellow and his time distance from Tadej. They are so equally matched.
Stage winner and first Tour de France stage win, Jasper Philipsen.
Battling for the yellow…still holding the youngest winner jersey, Tadej Pogacar. His team, UAE, and Jonas’ team, Jumbo Visma, are struggling with dropped teammates, after Jumbo’s dominance. The Tour is wide open!
King of the Mountain jersey winner, Germany’s Simon Geschke. Lots of fans at Stage 15!
And these guys. Best seat on the Tour! They had a clear shot of the finish and the podium.
Or, maybe this guy. :)
18 years since I’ve been at the Tour watching Lance win his 6th with his gold helmet down the Champs-Élysées. (Thank you, Theodore.) Carcassonne was
A M A Z I N G
Incredible experience. Beautiful country and people. Now, I need to keep hydrating, cool down, and replenish for Tuesday’s stage 16 as it goes through Limoux, about 1:15 pm local time!