Tour de France: Is seeing the tour live worth it?

Element photographer Scott Veitch, who is currently spending a year in France, writes about his day at the Tour de France.

 

Peter Sagan (green) and maillot jaune wearer, Greg Van Avermaet (yellow), ride in the peloton.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

I’ve covered a few cycling events in my day (such as Rd 3 of the SEQ Enduro Series) but seeing the Tour de France was the one I’d been hanging out for.

 

I wanted to be there, live on the roadside cheering on the peloton with the masses and decided 2018 would be the year.

 

So I got myself to Annecy, in the southeast of France, where the 10th stage of the tour would set off from.

 

The alpine town Annecy was bustling with cycling fans.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

And I wasn’t alone. This tiny alpine town was packed full of cycling enthusiasts.

 

At such a busy time, hiring a car became impossible, so I did the next best thing: I got a bike and set off to secure a spot along the road.

 

About 10 kilometres into the ride I stumbled upon a small village called Duingt.

 

Villages of Duingt readied themselves for the Tour de France to pass through.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

There was already a gathering crowd outside the bakery, and the adjoining pub was serving 3 euro beers with an empty table right on the curb of the course. This was the spot for me.

 

Spectators crowded the village bar for a seat to watch the Tour.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

Then it was time to play the waiting game (which was definitely improved with the aforementioned 3 euro beers).

 

Three euro beers made the wait fly by.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

Local bakers entertained themselves before the peloton came through

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

Two hours later the crowd began to get excited.

 

The Tour de France caravan

 

A parade of floats descended on the village, each sponsor’s vehicle more elaborate than the last.

 

The Tour de France caravan arrived in town.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

Caravan members sang and hyped up the crowd.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

The cars of the caravan entertained everyone.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

For half an hour cars and floats buzzed passed, blaring music and pelting merchandise into the crowd, inciting a hectic scramble for freebies.

 

A member of the caravan distributing merchandise to the crowd.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

Fighting off young children, I managed to get myself some high-quality merch: a child-sized cycling cap, some miniature sausages, fridge magnets, colouring books, a window shade, and even some washing-up liquid.

 

A pretty decent haul, if you ask me.

 

Then it was back to waiting. The free sausages went down a treat, along with a few more beers, as the crowd around me grew in size and enthusiasm.

 

A spectator hangs out a window for riders to come by.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

The peloton

 

I heard the helicopters first. My fellow punters ditched their seats for a spot closer to the roadside or jumped on tables for a higher vantage point.

 

The peloton could be heard before it was seen.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

They were close. You could hear the cheering in the distance.

 

Finally, the peloton were in sight. This was it. This was the reason I was here.

 

The peloton arrives in Duingt.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

The riders pass through, concentrating on the stage ahead.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet ride together in the group.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

The peloton flying past the small village.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

I really wish I could tell you more about it.

 

All I remember is a blur of fluorescent colours, the hum of wheels and the roar of the crowd around me. Before I knew it I was staring at the back of a motorcade.

 

And then they were gone.

Photo from Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018, Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. Photo by Element Photo and Video

 

When I looked up from my camera, they were gone.

 

All that waiting and anticipation, for a 20 second glimpse of the three-week endurance spectacle that is Le Tour de France.

 

Was it worth it? Heck yeah! Though next time, I’m bringing my own sausages.

 

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