The weatherman was on the nose….we woke to rain, rain, rain! Considering this was our first day on the whole trip where we’ve really had a day of rain, not bad. Unfortunately for the riders … this was a do or die day for the 2010 Tour de France.
We didn’t get away from the hotel until nearly 9 am and there were still many people waiting in the hotel because they were planning to ride their bikes to view the race today! This is a day that I’m glad we don’t have bikes to ride. We had worked for two nights on the directions for the little roads that would get us on the course in the mountain; if we can get there before they close the roads. We’ve had some problems with that issue as many times they have closed them by 9 or 10 am. This morning we were in luck…they didn’t close the road into the mountain until 11 am….we arrived there just after 10 so we were able to get on the road and climb higher than we have previously this year.
On the way to the mountain we drove around Lourdes and I saw the Basilica from a distance and again on the way back…it’s the last photo of the slideshow. Having been there three times over the past years we decided to forego the stop in order to reach the hotel and see the end of the race on television.
Back to the race….for those with maps we decided to make our stop about four miles north of Ferrieres on the Arthez-d’Asson. Riders will be climbing the base of the second mountain of the day as they whoosh past just a bit slower than on the flats.
By 10:15 am we were settled in….the car soon became very humid so we opened a door and placed the two umbrellas over the opening so that we’d have fresh air…and a few raindrops … in the car. It was still raining…at times very hard…with occasional lightning and thunder. The Caravan is due at 1 pm and the riders at 3 pm. We’ve got a long day ahead of us! But, we’ve finally made it on the course before they closed the road!
Did an inventory and we have water, potato chips and four pieces of rye bread….where are the fishes when we need them! But, never fear….the caravan is coming in a couple of hours and there is always lots of food tossed to the crazy spectators.
By 1 pm it was raining extremely hard….we dug into the big suitcases (we’d left them in the back of the car) and got out our windbreaker jackets (first time we’ve used them) and I’d put the red and blue rain poncho’s in the backpack this morning. You’ll love the photos! No pictures of the caravan but wow….did we ever collect the stuff! First of all there are fewer people on the road and I think they felt sorry for us! Everything we got was wet so we now have a Chinese laundry in the room to dry out all the hats and bags before we pack them away to take home. But lots of fun and I know the caravan appreciated our efforts; so much so that they were tossing multiples of things at us.
Another two hours for the riders….but we had a nice lunch of the rest of the chips along with the mini sausages, tiny biscuits and candy that the caravan had tossed to us. The rain slowed down and actually stopped for brief periods of time and when the riders came through it was so light that we stood outside in only our windbreakers holding our flag for the riders!
Headed home in all the traffic; back through Lourdes…so difficult to be so close and not stop. We arrived back at the hotel about 5 pm just in time to watch the last half hour of the race on the television. Then off to the market for gasoil for the car and a few groceries before eating a picnic dinner in our rooms.
The race was good; no major spills which can be a big problem in the rain. Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador dominated the race. At the very end it looked like Contador let Andy cross the finish line a wheel in front of his…Contador retains the yellow jersey and Schleck takes first place for Stage 17 of the TdF.
A few other stats: RadioShack riders today: Chris Horner was 8th, Andreas Kloden was 13th and Lance Armstrong was 17th. The president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, was at the finish line to greet the riders; he and Lance are good friends and commiserated with other about growing older! Lance is very open about this being his final race and he states that he is looking forward to having a private life in another week.
The big news is that Team RadioShack is in first place; over eight minutes ahead of the second place Spanish team of Caisse d’Epargne. Yeah Team RadioShack! Tomorrow we head for Bordeaux and will hopefully see the race enter Bordeaux as it looks like it passes right in front of our hotel! So for now … good night … more tomorrow from Bordeaux….