Element photographer Scott Veitch, who is currently spending a year in France, writes about his day at the Tour de France.
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.
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.
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.
Then it was time to play the waiting game (which was definitely improved with the aforementioned 3 euro beers).
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.
For half an hour cars and floats buzzed passed, blaring music and pelting merchandise into the crowd, inciting a hectic scramble for freebies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.