Chasing the Tour - Part three, starting Stage 16

We had three ride options today.  A reasonably solid 80km, an easier 55km, or the most direct route to and from the stage start at around 40km.  There was a fair bit of discussion at the dinner table last night about our aspirations for knocking out some more vertical metres for the Rapha Rising Strava challenge… but we head east to Alpe D’Huez tomorrow for a double ascent so there’s still plenty of metres left to climb!

So it was direct to the stage start after a sleep in and a lazy 20km.

Chris Froome (the current Malliot Jaune and likely Tour winner) on his way to the Stage Start. Popular guy!

Chris Froome (the current Malliot Jaune and likely Tour winner) on his way to the Stage Start. Popular guy!

Veeral Patel - photographer extraordinare from One-V Photo was pretty pleased to find that he had fans of his own at the stage start!

Veeral Patel - photographer extraordinare from One-V Photo was pretty pleased to find that he had fans of his own at the stage start!

It’s difficult to describe the intensity that surrounds a race start.  The local town (this time Vaison-la-Romanie) typically throws on a celebration of its own with markets and stalls, and the Tour de France circus rolls itself in to town on the back of a fleet of trucks with VIP areas, enough fencing to surround the town and a whole lot of road closures!

After watching the Publicite Caravane pass for the third time this tour, we positioned ourselves outside the Orica GreenEDGE bus for an hour or so and caught up with some of the boys about how the race was going.  Claire even talked Dan Jones in to finding her the only guitar they had left at the bus for a souvenir! I was also pretty pleased to spy Veeral Patel from OneV hanging around waiting for some photos.

Darryl Impey is one of the friendliest guys on the Orica GreenEDGE team! He spent a lot of time catching up with fans whilst some of the others stayed hidden in the bus!

Darryl Impey is one of the friendliest guys on the Orica GreenEDGE team! He spent a lot of time catching up with fans whilst some of the others stayed hidden in the bus!

I wondered if Stuart O'Grady was considering a tilt at politics when he took hold of this baby for a photo op!

I wondered if Stuart O'Grady was considering a tilt at politics when he took hold of this baby for a photo op!

From there it was off to Europcar in search of Tommy Voeckler before Claire heard something about Andy Schleck having appeared from the Radioshack bus and was off to see if she could catch his eye.

 "Hello Dan.  May I please have one your guitars?" politeness wins the day as Claire walked away with their last guitar for the morning!

 "Hello Dan.  May I please have one your guitars?" politeness wins the day as Claire walked away with their last guitar for the morning!

I'm a big fan of the Sherrif (Neil Stephens)! Dan was filming the opener for Backstage Pass with Neil at the start.

I'm a big fan of the Sherrif (Neil Stephens)! Dan was filming the opener for Backstage Pass with Neil at the start.

We made our way past Team Sky on the way up to the start line, along the way confirming my thoughts that when I turn Pro I will be looking to Team Sky for my contract! Given Team Sky have the largest budget in the business (rumoured to be around EU$25m) their set up is incredible! Luxury Jaguars, Pinarello’s in triplicate for everyone at the start line and the shiniest bus in the fleet- yes please!

The start line was mayhem.  The crowd was 6 deep, and if it weren’t for the bikes on roofs of the team cars, we would have had no idea the race had departed and was underway!

Simon Clarke! Can't say anything bad about the GreenEDGE guys, they were all really good to the fans (perhaps with the exception of Matt Goss who appeared to be having a bad day!).

Simon Clarke! Can't say anything bad about the GreenEDGE guys, they were all really good to the fans (perhaps with the exception of Matt Goss who appeared to be having a bad day!).

The group rolls back to the hotel along the valley.  A beautiful ride, made more so because of the French attitude to cyclists! They are just the most tolerant drivers around! I even got a high-five from a random car driver who was stuck in traffic as we rode by! It's not unusual at all for cars to follow groups without passing them for 10 minutes, they just don't seem to mind!

The group rolls back to the hotel along the valley.  A beautiful ride, made more so because of the French attitude to cyclists! They are just the most tolerant drivers around! I even got a high-five from a random car driver who was stuck in traffic as we rode by! It's not unusual at all for cars to follow groups without passing them for 10 minutes, they just don't seem to mind!

So a busy day, but plenty of time to catch up with blogging and relaxing before we hit the road for Alpe d’Huez in the morning!

 Cam

p.s. for those following on Facebook, you'll know that I've skipped over Mont Ventoux and the Pyrenees in the blog.  Don't worry- I'll be going back in the next edition! 

Cameron is the Club Captain of the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club and will be blogging his way around France with the support of Claire the Treasurer and Aaron the President of the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club.

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