Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Tour's in town

The bastide town of Eymet in the Dordogne department is the starting point
for today's leg of the 2017 Tour de France.

Today's leg of the 2017 Tour de France starts in Eymet, just 8 km from home. In the spirit of the occasion and to avoid traffic, we ride our bikes and arrive in plenty of time for the hoopla.

The Tour festivities are in full swing as the sponsors' swag mobiles cruise past.

Eymet is a lovely little bastide with a large British population. The village has been decked out for weeks in Tour colors and bicycle-themed art.

After the sponsors go by, the bikes arrive along with buses carrying the riders.

A Tour rider stops for a word with the road crew from the UAE team.

We frequently notice that things don't start on time in France, but the Tour de France is run like clockwork. Just after the sponsors' caravan is on its way, tour buses from Bergerac arrive with the riders, and cars with the bikes on top pull up right in front of where we're standing.

A Tour rider stops for a smile and to sign autographs
before the race.

This is the third time Ken and I have seen the Tour. If one watches along the route, there's a whole lot of waiting and then a few seconds of excitement as the riders pass by. Today's experience is much different and may be the only time we'll get to see the riders this close up. Some are cool enough to stop and sign autographs before the race begins.

A young Tour fan checks out the helicopter overhead.

A big-screen TV mounted on a big rig provides a closeup view of the festivities
before the race begins. Just to the right of the screen is a helicopter.

Riders descend a ramp as they are introduced prior to the start of the race.

We join our friends near the starting line and have a good view of the opening introductions on the big-screen TV. Then, just as the church bells strike 1 o'clock, the race begins ... swoosh!

A huddle of bike helmets indicates the riders are at the starting line.

And they're off.

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