Tour De France: July 6th and 7th.
The real winners of the Tour De France!!!
July 6th, one of the time trials for the Tour de France.
They put up extensive guardrails all over the city to mark the
course of the cyclist. Around 11:00 am the cyclist came out and
rode the course to warm up and practice.
Then around 1:00 pm they had a little parade (more like an
advertisement for all the supporters of the race).
By 2:00 people were packed in around all of the barriers
(a 7 km route). By 4:00 they finally started the official time
trials. What they do is let each rider out at one minute intervals
and the guy with the fastest time around the route wins for that day.
Lance Armstrong (THE US guy) was the last person to go at 7:00 pm.
I can't tell you how tired I was of standing up till then, but Lance
made it worth it! As soon as he came out of the starting point
everybody was cheering and as he raced by all the media motorcycles
with cameras were racing behind and beside him. We were right at a
turn in the road in the front of the barricade, so we got a clear
view of him approaching and turning the corner. It's amazing how
fast and how driven those guys are when they ride (I don't think
my legs could even go that fast if I wanted to!).
This One is Lance...
Anyway, once he went by (in a split second) we ran for the finish
line to see him come back around the other side of the route.
It was a huge mass of people all racing to see him finish.
Of course we couldn't get too close, but I got up on Dave's
shoulders and snapped more shots as he whizzed by on his way to the
Then we all waited as they calculated the times. Lance won the
time trial by two seconds!!!
As we headed back to the hotel from dinner we stumbled onto a band playing in the courtyard. It was The Scorpions playing with the Luxembourg orchestra for free! We were surprised to say the least. Well everybody was packed into the courtyard and all down the street. We of course took our places in the back of the courtyard with the rest of the late comers. Only problem was that we were certainly not the last people to get there and the crowd just kept on growing. There wasn't any crowd control or roped off areas, so as people decided to leave, go the bathroom, get beer, etc they come pushing through the crowd that is packed like sardines! Finally not too far from us somebody got into a fight because somebody pushed somebody...etc, etc and the whole crowd shoved to get out of the way. We ended up getting pushed a little too (I bruised my knee on a post that stuck up out of the ground). Well I decided I had enough and the concert was almost over so we decided to leave before it got worse. Oh well it was fun while it lasted!
July 7th, race around Luxembourg (cross country)for the Tour de France.
Well on Sunday we got up early to grab some pastries and head over to
the starting line. The only problem was that nobody seemed to know
where to go. A lot of people were just standing around and no other
activity seemed to be going on. Of course, since Dave and I don't
speak French it's hard to get info. Well finally we overheard one
couple who found a Tour de France official and found out we were
standing in the wrong place!!! UGGGGG!! We start running to get to
the right place in time (which was about 2-3 blocks around the corner).
We get there minutes before they release the riders. Of course
everything is packed at this point and you can barely see. First they
let a whole load of balloons loose to float up into the sky and then
the race was off! Since Lance finished first the day before, he starts
the race for today...but the race is basically one large mass of guys
on bicycle. Lance takes off with the motorcycle media entourage.
As they go racing by it's incredible to see the bright colored jerseys
and hear the whir of all the tires on the pavement.
Well in a matter of seconds they are all off on their ride,
so Dave and I return to the courtyard area where they have
different bands playing all day long. It's pretty much a lazy
day until around 4:00 pm when we go back over towards the finish
line to wait for the riders to come back.
Around 5:30 (I think) the riders return. You'd think that after
riding 192 km across Luxembourg that they trickle in, well they don't!
It's amazing that they all come racing to the finish in almost one
huge group. Of course there are a few stragglers, but only by minutes!
This time we scaled a brick fence wall and sat on top of it so we
could have a birds eye view as they raced by. It was great!!!
July 8th, we return home (and made it to the plane in plenty of time this time)! Amazing!
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