We’re just back home from watching the 70th Paris Nice cycle race flash past us at Aigurande, about 30 km away, its closest point to Chez Dagg. We had a disastrous journey there. I’d intended to go along some minor roads to end up north of Aigurande on the D990. As it was, there were practically no signposts anywhere and we got hopelessly lost. Poor Rors threw up spectacularly as a result of travel sickness, luckily outside the car! We ended up at Aigurande after all, which I’d been trying to avoid at all costs, thinking that it would be closed to traffic and heaving with people.
It wasn’t. The Paris Nice doesn’t excite anything like as much interest or police ferocity as the Tour de France, although to be fair there was a reasonable turnout, considering it was only 4 degrees and hailing! The roads are closed about three hours before the TdF hits town. Here cars and lorries were wandering along right up until a few minutes before the breakaway group appeared. There were even some non-official vehicles containing either worried or surprised motorists driving along between the front runners and the peloton. I couldn’t believe it!
We staked our claim under a convenient tree which kept us dry.
If there was a caravan, we missed it, but we hadn’t intended arriving too early for the race, given the cold. There was a steady procession of gendarmes on motorbikes. This lot weren’t anything as jolly as the TdF usuals and we only got a few grudging waves from them in reply to our enthusiastic greetings. Rors and Caiti snarled at each other for a while, and then a Paris Nice official vehicle came by announcing that the first riders were close. A couple of minutes later they appeared. Here they are in my photo – Roy Curvers (PRO), Michael Morkov (SAX) and Jimmy Engoulvent (SAU).
The peloton – or ‘bunch’ as Sean Kelly always used to call it when he did commentary on bike races! – zoomed along around four minutes later. You can see Bradley Wiggins in yellow in my photo here, surrounded by other members of Team Sky.
I only took the one photo since I wanted to experience the peloton rush past properly. It’s exhilerating – the blur of colour, the purr of a zillion euros worth of bikes speeding past and the claps and cheers of the onlookers. I’m pretty sure I picked out Irish rider Nicolas Roche.
Aigurande was a food point for the riders, and just up the road from us was an official litter dropping zone. There’d been a cloud of silver wrappers floating from the riders as they went through that. We spotted a couple of water bottles but they’d gone by the time we swooped, curses! However, just for fun, and for the sake of the environment, we picked up a few wrappers to see what sort of energy boosting bars top calibre cyclists eat. Overstimm seems to be the favourite brand. Maybe the name is a little worrying though?
We went back to the car and drove up the D990 a short way looking for discarded water bottles that other people had missed but didn’t see any. And then we pottered home for hot chocolate and to thaw out.
A great outing.
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