Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

Le Tour de Sheffield

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

It’s that time of the year again when super-skinny, lycra-clad men ride around on bikes for the entertainment of us less-skinny, less-lycra-clad folk. The hipsters are excited – Le Tour de France has begun and this year it started in good old Yorkshire, land of puddings. There has been plenty of build up to the big event with an increased interest in bikes and the colour yellow. I was visiting my brother in Sheffield over the weekend, which happened to coincide with the York to Sheffield stage of the Tour. I had hoped to see the bikes in action but the route didn’t pass anywhere near the centre of the city and my lack of transport and inability to plan ahead meant that I didn’t make it. Instead, my brother, Dad and I stood outside the Sheffield town hall and watched the riders do their thing on a very large screen. The atmosphere was charged, we had a great view of all of the action and we could listen to Phil Liggett. The Tour isn’t the Tour without Phil. Oh and we waved to a camera man in a helicopter and appeared somewhere in an aerial shot. FAME.

Bikes on a big screen.

Bikes on a big screen.

Two years standing on the Champs Elysée and this year next to a large screen in Sheffield – that must make me a regular Tour attendee. I should get a tshirt.

 

Lots of Lycra

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

My presence on the Champs Élysées for the end of the Tour de France has become an annual occurrence – yesterday my friend Brandon and I joined the crowds of British tourists to watch the boys in lycra roll into Paris. It amazes me how easy it is to actually do this – I always imagined pushing and shoving and hordes of people lining the grand rue for the final day. Instead, Brandon and I met 50 minutes before the riders’ expected arrival and managed to find a spot right near the finish line without any problems.

Tour de France

Le Tour

Paris finally brought out the sunshine and it was a glorious day. The atmosphere amongst the crowd was very positive and it is such an exciting experience to watch the bikes zooming past. They go a LOT faster in real life than they do on television. Absolutely amazing.

Tour de France

Allez!

I was particularly thrilled to see Jens Voigt, the craziest and awesomest German bike rider EVER, heading the group for most of the way. He was clearly telling those legs to “shut up and do as I tell you”. Amazing.

Jens Voigt

GO JENS!

There were a few amusing moments, too. Last year I complained about Tina Arena singing the Australian national anthem when Cadel Evans was standing on the podium – this year was even WORSE. Perhaps it was my proximity to one of the speakers, but the opera singing who screeched out God Save the Queen burst a few ear drums amongst the crowd. It made me screw up my face in horror, this then resulting in a girl standing near me laughing. It was truly awful. So I say “Go Tina!”

Then there was Wiggins’ speech, which he made in English and that wasn’t exactly the most inspirational thing I had ever seen. But there was then a French translation for all of the non-english-speakers in the crowd. I’m not sure if this translation was shown on the television but it was absolutely terrible! Firstly, the translator was a girl. This just seemed strange. Secondly, she then ‘beautified’ the rather crude things that Wiggins’ had said, and said that his father’s dream of seeing his son winning the Tour de France had come true, rather than his mother’s dream as Wiggins had stated. Wiggins had also asked the crowd not to get too drunk, which was not translated at all and somehow turned into him thanking the crowd with all of his heart. Good work, translator.

The third amusing element was the overly dramatic music that was pumped through the speakers before the presentation of each of the jerseys. It was all violins and rolling drums. It certainly ‘added’ to the atmosphere. Amazing stuff.

So another year of the Tour is over and next year will be the 100th! Looks like I will have to stay in Paris in order to participate in the festivities.

Ohhhh the Champs Elysées

Monday, July 25th, 2011

J’adore Paris et le Tour. What a great afternoon! At 1.30pm, Tom and I met my ex-school friend, Pippin, and his girlfriend near the Champs Elysées and headed down to find a spot to watch the riders come in on the last leg of the Tour de France. I was expecting madness but all I found was “slightly busier than normal”. As a result, we managed to plant ourselves at the end of the VIP tents, right near the finishing line, but standing in mud piles with the rest of the average folk. No tiered seating for us.

Tour de France

Not a bad view apart from the annoying police folk who decided to stand in the way

We had to wait for a while. The riders didn’t hit the Champs Elysées until after 4pm so in the mean time we watched a parade of trucks and vans covered in sponsors’ logos and with tight-tshirted girls dancing and waving to the crowd. Now that’s entertainment. I must say the truck advertising laundry detergent with two six-packed men who were only wearing their red underwear was probably my favourite.

Baguette mobile

A baguette a day makes you ride like Cadel

The crowd was full of non-french people who had clearly come from far and wide to be there. It was a nice group of people and I only saw two drunken idiots, both of whom were escorted away by some of the many police officers standing around. When the riders finally arrived the crowd cheered and applauded and it was a vibrant and happy atmosphere. There was a very strong Australian support group who were surprisingly well behaved and oh-so-proud of Cadel.

Tour de France

Spot Cadel on the left of this photo, next to the policeman's cap

I have wanted to be on the Champs Elysées for the end of the Tour for many years now and it was such a great experience to have been part of. We chose a great place to stand as at the end of the race the award stage was pulled out and positioned within our view and we could watch Cadel being announced as the winner.

Tour de France podium

Cadel is the winner!

Sadly I didn’t get to see Jens Voigt but I felt good knowing he was within a few hundred metres of me. He’s so cool.

For photos and videos of my time at the Tour de France, and to hear Tina Arena sing the National Anthem (yes… that was depressing), head to my Flickr site.

Le Tour est Ici

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I’m so excited! For years I have wanted to stand on the Champs Elysées to watch the arrival of the Tour de France riders on the last day of Le Tour. THE DAY HAS COME! And to make matters even more exciting, Cadel Evans, Australian biking hero (according to Tony Abbott), is going to win. I suspect there will be a few screaming Australians standing on the road side today but instead of screwing up my nose at them like I normally would, I might join in and cheer on the riders.

To be honest I haven’t been watching the tour this year for two reasons:

  1. I’ve been busy
  2. The coverage is on during the day, instead of the easy post-dinner viewing time that we get in Australia. It’s much easier to watch it in Perth!

I only discovered last night that Cadel was going to win – I knew he was in the top three but I then automatically assumed a Schleck would come and take over. So may aim for today is to get as close to the Champs Elysée as possible, as close to the finish line as possible, and as close to Jens Voigt as possible. He’s hilarious.