Thursday, June 20, 2024

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 21: Versailles > Paris Champs-Élysées, 118km. Marcel Kittel Wins a Fourth

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HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2013 – Stage 21: Versailles > Paris Champs-Élysées,...
Le Tour de France

Marcel Kittel won today, but yesterday, Saturday night, was sore – 4.5 hours on the road after the race then straight into the best of two falls or a submission with the motel wi-fi. However a chance meet with the night porter and we were ‘in’ on the staff password – words and pics all safely on their way.

We realised a dream yesterday; our very own barbie on a mountainside – it was just ‘the biz’.

We had a wee bit of a ‘stramash’ with some Belgian journos who practically parked on our bonnet – but in the interests of EU harmony we bunged them a sausage and a kebab off the barbie and harmony reigned.

Our roadside BBQ – sounds daft, but when you’re working, making space for some downtime takes a bit of planning! Photo©Martin Williamson

The drive after the stage was over wasn’t ‘the biz’ though – all those hours up the ‘Autoroute Du Soleil.’

We were lucky to drive it in the evening – during the holiday season when it’s busy, it’s lethal, largely due to just about everyone ignoring the speed limit and the insane tail-gating which is standard practice on continental roads.

When we looked out of our F1 window in the morning, we saw that our car had been abandoned, rather than parked – we were tired boys.

Our car wasn’t perfectly placed after a near 5-hour drive. Photo©Ed Hood

But here we are, Sunday morning, the sun is shining and shortly we’ll be off to the start to drive the stage into The City of Light.

The F1 motel next door has a special guest – the Credit Lyonais leon.

The caravan lion has shed his skin overnight. Photo©Ed Hood

We caught him early, before he had his fur coat on – I hope it makes past the censor…

…and to use that journalistic device, fast forward 24 hours to Monday morning.

* * *

We’re now on the A115 heading north to Beauvais and the airport giving Radio Nostalgi it’s last airing for a while.

The sounds were good, yesterday – ‘Oh Happy Day‘ just as we entered Paris to watch Marcel Kittel the the win…

Perfect.

The mini Statue of Liberty. Photo©Ed Hood

Paris was hot but not nearly as busy as usual – I can’t comment on the Champs because we didn’t go up there – but along the Quai and in the tribunes there was plenty of room – most unusual.

My personal view is that whilst the twilight timing may be great for the tele it means that many locals didn’t show.

Plenty space on the barriers with the race only thirty minutes away. Photo©Ed Hood

With the race finish nearer 22:00 hours it meant you wouldn’t be home ’til wearing on for midnight.

Too late, if you have kids.

En route the Versailles depart the moto gendarmes hurtled past us – pulling neat three-up very tight TTT’s at big speeds on open roads.

The police Gendarmerie riders are amazingly skilled. Photo©Ed Hood

From Versailles we drove the parcours, well in advance of the race, that gave us plenty of time to take in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.

Because we were there before the madness, the police and officials checked our accreditation but were relaxed about us driving around the course and stopping to take pictures.

Marcel Kittel
Versailles is absolutely stunning. Photo©Ed Hood

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, 50 years in the building, 700 rooms, 67 staircases, 352 fireplaces, tree lined drives which go on forever, ornamental lawns, a vast man-made lake in the shape of a cross (the Grand Canal).

It’s vast and very beautiful – or a hideous over indulgence which illustrates why the French Revolution came as no surprise…

You choose.

Marcel Kittel
The palace grounds are vast. Photo©Martin Williamson

After the palace, the parcours were pretty un photogenic until we reached Paris – and much diminished roadside spectators.

It’s always a thrill though when you take the road along the Seine and get your first view of the Eiffel Tower.

The quickest way into Paris on the last day of the Tour is to simply drive race route. Photo©Ed Hood

The approach was different, this year and involved us crossing the Seine three times instead of the usual once – inspiring total traffic melt down.

The French do like to toot their horns.

But eventually we made it to the underground car park just off the Place de la Concorde.

The bookshops along the Seine are an oasis of calm today. Photo©Ed Hood

We photographed many of the big sights on the way in – the Eiffel Tower, Liberty, Les Invalides, the book stands by the Seine, the glass pyramid at the Louvre, the Joan of Arc statue, the Rivoli Ferris wheel, the river traffic on the Seine and the obelisk on the Champs Elysees.

The GreenEdge bus was navigating a delicate path through one of the Louvre’s arches when we passed – one mega Euro fine per Tour is enough, thank you.

Marcel Kittel
The GreenEDGE bus edges ever-so-gingerly through the gate, whilst Dan Jones the cameraman records the event from inside the cab. Photo©Martin Williamson
The Publicity Caravan on the Champs-Élysées. Photo©Martin Williamson
Impressive gymnastics. Photo©Martin Williamson
It’s thirsty work on the Caravan. Photo©Martin Williamson
Marcel Kittel
The Rivoli Big Wheel. Photo©Ed Hood
Marcel Kittel
Norwegian Corner on the Rue du Rivoli. Photo©Ed Hood
The very expensive race viewing balconies on the Hotel Crillon. Photo©Ed Hood

We split up, Martin setting off to take the race pics whilst I sniff around the bus park.

Marcel Kittel
Interesting detail on the Team Sky truck. Photo©Martin Williamson

Crash victim, Marcus Sieberg was around and about the Lotto bus – still strapped up from his crash.

Marcel Kittel
Marcus Sieberg awaits his teammates finishing the stage. Photo©Ed Hood