Even after one week in the Tour de France, it’s a blur — start towns, finish towns, hours on autoroutes and petite village backroads, the towns start run together. Was I in what? Chambery, Rodez, Brive La Gaillard, Eymet, Saint Gaudin, Philadelphia, what, am I on drugs?
Stage 12, the 100k Pyrenees second act, promised more all-out racing, Froome out of yellow, looking less than dominant, dreams of upsets taking hold. Not having a press credential to get high up on the final climb (which was so narrow it was closed to cars and campers) I set up shop it the finish town of Foix.
This turned out to be a wise choice and I got there in enough time to take in the Centre Ville part of town and meet an American who just moved here with this wife from California. He bought a three story place in the middle of old city Foix for $63,000 grand, is making money doing the airb&b thing and running a new bike touring company. (I will post his info tomorrow because it’s in the trunk of my car right now and almost midnight here.)
Anywho, I talked with John about moving to France, etc etc and then we talked bike racing. He’d ridden all the climbs in the area and just the week before had ridden the final brutal climb before the high speed run into Foix. I had an ideal view of the race from a cool bar right across from the finish line and a block from all the team buses. Three verres de vin rouge and life was tres bon.
My perspective was the same as most cycling journalists. It’s been a long time since we’ve had racing this open and exciting, with Fabio Aru, Dan Martin, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet all launching attacks on Sky and Froome and anyone riding next to them. It was like a free-for-all with everybody grabbing an stiletto and looking for blood.
It was so exciting that in the last 30k I noticed I wasn’t breathing very deeply. I was so tense and stressed, wondering what the outcome of the stage would be. It being July 14, Independence Day in France, I couldn’t argue with the fabulous win by Warren Barguil of Sunweb.
I made a beeline for the team buses and got some great shots of Martin, Uran, Esteban Chavez and assorted characters before jumping in the car, bolting out of town in an incredibly mediocre hotel and essential missing dinner.
That said, it was a fabulous day in Le Grand Shindig. If the Alps are anywhere near as exciting as the Pyrenees, then this Tour will truly be one for the ages.