As we all know, Le Tour de France was kind enough in 2012 to have a stage finish line very close to good old Blighty this July.
Stage 3 on Tuesday the 3rd ran from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer on the northern coast of France.
This gave many of us English riders the opportunity to make our way to the Ferry ports and give our biggest cheers for our British contenders!
It was a fantastic day out. A group of 8 had all booked the 8:25am ferry as foot passengers with bikes, not just us by the way, about another 150 people had the same idea.
We got the ferry from Dover to Calais leaving us with a 28 mile ride to Boulogne along the coast road (so yes, as you could imagine, we had a very nasty head wind all the way to contend with!). On the way we all stopped at a nice Cafť for a coffee with about 10 miles still to where we met a very friendly French man that insisted his wife took a picture with us. What a gentleman he was too!
Because of the wind the group split into two. The road closed at the 250mt to go mark so we had to stare at each other from opposite sides of the road for the race finish but I didnít take anything away from the day.
To see the procession of cars, trucks and busses was a true site never to forget. The closest we could get was to the 150mt line but chose to watch from 250mt as it was the last bend and had a 15ft screen above it. After they went past you, you could then watch the screen to see who made the made up hill sprint for the line!
The return journey was a little bit more pleasant as we had a tail wind. But, only just under 2 hours to make check in for the ferry, plus 500mtís of climbing in the way we had no time for conversation until we were safely on board.
All in all, it was an experience not to be missed. At the finish line the only voices you could hear were from our little island and it was just like being at home!
Should Le Tour pass this close to us again next year, then I think, all should think about booking the day off!
Here are some pictures from the day, Russell Whitford.
A friend in France
On the finishing straight
|Peddle for Charity|
|Only 150m to go|
|The Sky Team Bus|
|Blink and you miss them!|