Sunday, July 26, 2009


Stage 20 of the 2009 Tour de France begins in Montereau-Fault-Yonne, where the Seine River merges with the Yonne River. The city is east of Fontainebleau. The riders will head north about 40 km before turning west towards Paris and the Champs-Élysées. Today they will ride 101.9 miles, but much of it in the streets of Paris.

The final Stage of the 2009 Tour de France was very predictable with no mountains and only 2 sprints….Mark Cavendish didn’t take the Green Jersey but took the final sprint for his 6th Stage Victory as he crossed the finish line first!

The leaders final times were only slightly different from the end of yesterday’s stage with Alberto Contador winning his second Tour de France! We were thrilled to see Lance Armstrong on the podium in third position…using a popular phase “not bad for an old fart”!

As Chris Brewer wrote on the Livestrong Website:

It's a parade like atmosphere as they approach casually from the southeast, champagne toasts being made on the bike and many a staged photo taken with the race leaders and their teams. That all ends in earnest, though, soon after the race leader's team ceremoniously leads the peloton across the finish line for the first of eight laps around the famous Champs Elysees. As the race heads down to the Arch de Triumph and back again to the Place de la Concorde the speed gets faster with every circuit. Tens of thousands of fans line the route, with attack and counter attack being played out again and again. Winning a stage is important, but winning the final stage of the Tour is very prestigious, too.

And so, once the sprinters have had their day the true victors of the Tour de France will be crowned midway down the Champs. Each team will also get their time in the sun as they take a victory lap acknowledging their amazing effort. After three weeks of racing it's hard to believe it's all over, but it won't be long I assure you before the speculation and planning for the 2010 edition is back in full swing. But for now, it's all about finding where your family and friends are, and where is the team party tonight?!

The WINNERS of the 96th Edition of the Tour de France are:

#1: Alberto Contador

#2: Andy Schleck +4:11

#3: Lance Armstrong +5:24

#4: Bradley Wiggins +6.01

#5: Frank Schleck +6.04

Our Jerseys were awarded to:

Top Team Overall: Astana

Maillot Jaune: Alberto Contador

Maillot Vert: Thor Hushovd

Maillot a Pois Rouges: Franco Pellizotti

Maillot Blanc: Andy Schleck

And for the final chapter on the 2004 Tour de France, here is the story of that eventful day on Sunday, July 25th, 2004, in the City of Paris……

Sunday, July 25th, 2004 Paris

The final day of the Tour de France. Took the Metro over to the Place de la Concorde about 10 am with plans to possible see the Museum L’Orangerie and then walk down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe to get a feel for the course that they would ride between four and five o’clock this afternoon. Whoops…we came up from the Metro and found a zoo of police and people. The streets were already blocked off. We had difficulty getting anywhere even though we were walking! We walked over to the L’Orangerie and found that they have closed it again for remodeling! We then walked for about a mile before we could get near the course. Found a great place with seats on a stonewall with several other Americans. After half an hour, the police came and moved us out…the area was to be kept cleared of people! Later, on television, we saw our wall during the race and it was void of people! Made us feel a little better; Jim had been sure that other people would eventually get those seats.

So we continued to walk and try to get closer to the course. Finally managed to find a street that they would allow us to cross and we made it over to the Champs-Elysees. By that time all the rails were taken but we found a great curb with a lamppost to lean again with a wonderful view of a television screen that was at least forty feet square. We were now very near the Petit Palace. It was now about noon and the caravan was due about three with the riders arriving in Paris about four in the afternoon. Once inside the city they will make ten loops up and down the Champs-Elysees between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. We had another interesting group of Americans around us and one Scotsman. The young couple was from San Diego, here for ten days only. An older couple from Michigan has been working in Paris for nearly four years; they are scheduled to go home in September. So, we were an interesting group exchanging information! When you spend several hours standing on a corner you get to know each other. Never exchanged names but learned all kinds of facts about their lives in general.

Jim saw some people with Postal Team on their shirts so he went to ask about the “party”; they didn’t know about any party but since he had a Livestrong yellow bracelet they gave him a small yellow shirt pin that said Postal to put on his Tour de France hat. They also told him where he could get more bracelets if he wanted them. I asked him to see if he could get more pins so he set off to find the booth. He didn’t get any more pins but did come back with a French Hot Dog. They put a French roll on a heated rod that creates a perfect space for the hot dog. They put the condiments in the bun then they insert the hot dog….volla…a non- dripping hot dog!

By the time the riders arrived in Paris the street between our curb and the television screen was packed solid with people. We were amazed at how many step stools and small ladders that we saw. People would climb up the light poles and then the police would allow them a few minutes and make them come down. A real mass of humanity with one common goal…to see Lance Armstrong become the first to win the Tour de France for the sixth time.

The television played short versions of all the stages of the race and also kept us up to date with the progress of today’s ride into Paris. The riders were very relaxed today and did lots of interviews as they road 110 kilometers (about 70 miles) towards Paris. Once the group enters the city limits the sprinters start breaking away to improve their individual times. They do another 53 kilometers inside the city limits including the ten laps on the Champs-Elysees. When they arrived Jim went over and elbowed his way close enough to the street to film the riders. We watched them make two loops and then headed back to the Metro and the hotel to watch the finish in our room. It’d been a long and very hot day; had not seen a restroom for seven hours; the only shade we had had been from our umbrellas. But a great experience and well worth the inconvenience.

Rested up after the race and then walked over to the Paris skyscraper for a city view. Fifty-nine stories high, you have a wonderful three hundred sixty degree view of the entire city from the top. You have a twenty-five mile view per the brochure. The roof also doubles for a helicopter pad. The one view you don’t have is of the Seine River as it sits down too low below the buildings. But a much better view than from the Eiffel Tower. Another end to a memory filled day. We celebrated the end of the Tour by drinking the last of our Pastis!

On Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, I will continue our 2004 Journal as we spend another day in Paris and then head south into Provence, then Nice and on into Italy. We end our adventure with a couple of days in London before arriving in the USA on August 19th. Hope you stayed tuned….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are on the road again and stopped at a Comfort suite for this afternoon and until 11 tomorrow. So have used the time to catch up on the final 5 stage reports and journal... love reading everything and your pictures are great. Hope you are having a great time. Hugs, Mary