Le Tour du Tour day 5 – Stage 18

On not nearly enough sleep after all the excitement of the previous day, I was up early again, this time to head out to Blagnac for the start of stage 18. Aims for the day were to find the Orica GreenEdge team bus during the ‘getting ready’ period, and see some of the sign-on, before watching them roll out for the day.

Not really knowing precisely where in Blagnac I might find Le Tour, Blagnac being a peripheral village of Toulouse, I caught the tram and followed the crowd. It turned out to be not that difficult – the Caravane was just passing by to start its journey as I arrived so I followed them and they led me all the way to the start line, the ‘village depart’, and all the festivities.

I thought the team buses must have been hiding somewhere else, as they were nowhere to be seen when I arrived. But actually they were just on their way – arriving in the wake of the caravane accompanied by all the team cars loaded up with squillions of dollars worth of bikes. FDJ have the only female bus driver, just fyi.

I got a wave from the GreenEdge support guys, and wished them a good day as they went past on their way in to the dusty field where all the teams would prepare for the day. Unfortunately, it turned out that access to the dusty field was for pass-holders only, and the GreenEdge bus was somewhere in the middle so I couldn’t really see them from outside the fence. On the upside, the BMC bus was on the edge, so I joined a bunch of other Aussies waiting to see Cadel Evans, including the Crikey Cadel Crocodile who had energetically perched himself on the fence, propped against a porta-loo, for maximum visibility. Well done that man. I was glad Cadel gave him a big thumbs up when he emerged from the bus – well deserved for such dedicated fandom.

I watched a bit of the signing on, and saw team Sky presented to the crowd as a unit and receiving a lot of handshakes from presumably important people. (I assume they were leading the teams classification that morning).

And without much ceremony, the riders were all rolling over towards the surprisingly small start area. The crowd was already a bit thick around there, so I skirted around back streets with a crew of other brisk walkers until we found a relatively uncluttered corner to watch them ride past, still in the neutral zone.

The trickle of official vehicles and press motorbikes turned into a stream, and finally the red Skoda with the white Depart flag flapping madly led the bunch around the corner and up the road, followed by team cars, more official vehicles, and, oddly, Mark Cavendish who had clearly experienced some kind of issue and was a fair way behind the bunch at the start. (Whatever it was didn’t affect his performance later in the day though… what a sprint!)

Finally the team bus drivers executed some more impressive precision driving and navigated their huge vehicles through the tiny french back streets and onward towards today’s finish. Another wave to the GreenEdge bus, and I was hurrying back through town to squeeze into a packed tram and return to Toulouse in time to hop on the TGV… next stop, Paris!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Le Tour du Tour day 5 – Stage 18

  1. Mum

    Well Anna, I’m lost for words!! Reading all the FABULOUS things you have done, accomplished in a foreign land (!) and especially the drive up and down those horrendous Cols.
    WOW!!! FANTASTIQUE!!! MERVIEULLEUX!!! and many others. . . .

    Have a wonderful time on the Champs today/tonight – how I’d love to be there with you!! However, thank goodness this is the last night of Le Tour and my weeks of sleep deprivation will be over but what a ride!!!

  2. Hi Anna,

    Bridget posted your blog on the Tracker Fan Page tonight – it’s been great to read of your Tour experiences and see you in the chat room.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels!

    • Hi Clayton,
      Thanks for popping into the blog! It’s been an amazing week indeed. Hope it was also a great week 3 in the chat room!

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