There was no shortage of excitement Tuesday as the 103rd Tour de France whizzed through Châtellerault, not even a 5-min walk from our house. Needless to say, school was put on hold for Dominic & Soph and we headed just one street over when we saw crowds begin to gather.
You can’t see much in the way of crowds in my photos (below) because most people headed about 600m further down the road where cyclists would have to make two turns in a short space (makes for a better spectacle I guess).
First to arrive, shortly after 11:00am was the Caravan: A parade of sponsor companies that drives by with music blaring to rev-up the crowd & throw lots of branded trinkets.
Make no mistake… kids are a trinket-magnet! I purposefully stood on the opposite side of the street from Liz & the kids so that I could get them in some of the photos and I was treated to woefully less than they were. You could see them wind up as soon as they saw that there were kids.
(the other benefit to staying where we were as opposed to going down where the rest of the crowds were… less scrambling to get trinkets!)
Neatest float to see was the McCain French Fries float, because McCain’s is a company based in our home province of New Brunswick, Canada. It did our Canadian pride good to see them here as well. Of course there’s not getting around the fact that the rolling 6-pack of drinking boxes was pretty cool too (see photos).
Immediately after the Caravan passed by, a fair number of spectators gathered up their lawnchairs and picnic baskets and left.
“Do they know something we don’t?”
Turns out they possibly did… it would be nearly another two-hour wait before the cyclists would come by. But the wait was interspersed with gendarmes whizzing by on motorcycles, photographers and news-casters whizzing by on the back of motorcycles and the odd press, team or first-aid car as well.
We figured that the cyclists must be getting closer when four helicopters came by overhead…
Sure enough… it wasn’t much longer but that the first group came into sight.
The first rider to whiz by was Spaniard Markel Irizar, a member of the American Trek – Segafredo team, followed by two of his team-members.
(Though they were in the lead in Châtellerault, the stage would go on to be won by German Marcel Kittel of the Belgian team; Etixx – Quick Step)
The actual passage of the cyclists itself went very quickly… They average roughly 43 km/hr so we’re talking a matter of no more than 7-8 min from the time that the first group came through (with a 5-min lead) and the last of the group pulled up the rear.
Photos of the day:
Want to know what it looks & sounds like to be in the Tour de France?
This 3-min video will do just that… a couple of Hero GoPro Session cameras were mounted on bikes & helmets to make it possible… they are scenes from Tuesday’s ride (although you never see Châtellerault sadly).
In Other News…
Here’s a bit of a sum-up of the rest of the week:
- Dominic finished his last test yesterday… that’s two down & one to go (Soph) as far as school goes.
- Bro. Brochu came down on Tuesday night for a couple of days. He spoke on Wednesday night and during the day Wednesday & Thursday he & I did some renovation work on an apartment in another building owned by the national work here.
- Wednesday night, following Bible Study, we came out of the church to find a swarm of bees on one of the fence posts surrounding the church yard. Very cool… had never see one before. They were gone by the following evening.
- Today the kids are at a birthday party for neighbours, after which we’ll be headed up to Melun to preach & sing at Bro. Nowacki’s church tomorrow morning.
Bro. Brochu mentioned that in all of his 16 years in Châtellerault, the Tour de France has never come through… so we should count ourselves fortunate to have the world’s most well-known bike race come within steps of our front door.
…& glad we can share it with & because of you!