Tour de France
As the Tour de France 2015 just ended, with the British Christopher Froome winning the tour for the second time, I thought I would tell you more about this event that I actually saw last year.
The Tour de France is an annual multiple stage bicycle race, mainly held in France, but with stages also going through nearby countries. This year, for example, the tour started in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on July 4th. The first race was organized in 1903 as to increase the sale of the magazine L’Auto. The race happened every year since its creation, except during the two World Wars. Since its creation, the tour gained prominence and popularity, which resulted in lengthening the race and in its recognition around the world. At first, there were mainly French riders, but soon riders from all over the world joined in the race.
The Tour de France is one of the three-week-long Grand Tour, along with the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. Although the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Alps and the Pyrenees, and the finish in the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The modern editions of the Tour de France consist in a 23-day period, with 21 stages and cover around 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers).
There are usually between 20 and 22 teams participating in the tour, with 9 riders in each team. All the stages are times to the finish, and each rider’s time is compounded with its previous stage times. The rider with the lowest aggregate time is the leader of the race and gets to wear the yellow jersey.
Last year’s Tour de France started in Leeds, United Kingdom on July 5th. On July 26th, during the 20th stage, the riders went through Bergerac and Perigueux.
I got to see the cyclists of the Tour de France in Maurens, as they passed near the small town, located not far away from Bergerac. Let me tell you that Maurens is a tiny city, and that this passage of the Tour de France was something quite big for this town. I am sure it boosted the economy for this week end, and it is great! But Bergerac also benefited from it, since it is close by. All the bars and restaurants, which are normally not that crowded, were better served when it comes to customers. I am glad this was beneficial, especially to small towns like these two.
So my dad and I took the Camping Car the day before and set our camp on a green space near the road, which belongs to my grandpa. My cousins and some friends joined us and set up their tent for the night. The day of the race, we were joined by additional people, which made the day even greater, and we all waited for the riders to pass by. There were a lot of people there, and of course, even foreigners like Dutch, who came to support their cyclists.Of course, we had our French flag, in support of the French cyclists participating in the race.
Before the cyclists arrived, there were the advertising caravans, of which the procession began 2 hours before the cyclists’ arrival. These sponsors all arrived with colorfully decorated trucks and cars and distributed gifts by throwing them on both side of the road, for people to catch them. We saw popular companies such as Bic, Skoda, Belin, McCain. They threw small bags of food, caps, shirts, or drinks and you must be fast to catch those before someone else does! This is the part we enjoyed the most, because, to be honest, the race in itself was not that exciting or anything. But it was all new for me, so I really enjoyed it all. I knew it was this opportunity would not happen again soon, so it was the perfect occasion!
The German Tony Martin won this 20th stage of the race. However, France claimed back some of its past victory by placing two men on the race podium for the first time in 30 years: Thomas Pinot (2nd) and Jean-Christophe Péraud (3rd). This stage was actually an individual time trial, during which cyclists race alone against the clock.
The winner of the entire race was the Italian Vicenzo Nibali, with the French Thomas Pinot finishing 4th.
Do you follow the Tour de France? Have you ever gone to one of the stages?
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