The RoadBook

Maps, routes, time tables, sponsor info, and all the other behind the scenes info about chasing bike races with a camera.

Stage 14 – Montélimar to Villar-les-Dombes

 Sorry for the delay in posting this. Some telecom issues had arisen last night, but I believe they're solved for now. Enjoy!

In today’s notes of the TdF roadbook, a keen eye might observe a litte note on the side of the page, under the directions for the off-course route. “Risque de circulation très dense sur l'A7 et l'A46.” Heavy traffic.

Très dense is très an understatement. This was unfathomable traffic with respect to the region we’re in, its population density, or the 3-lane, 130 kph autoroute that otherwise functions just fine everywhere else I’ve been on the Tour. Maybe this is like the Bermuda Triangle of France or something weird like that? L’Octagon Lyonnais, perhaps? The whole day, anywhere along the off-course route (useful for getting from photo spot to photo spot) was spent at a crawl.

To make matters worse, the stage was subject to a fierce headwind for much of the day, to the extent that the organizers even bumped the start up by 15 minutes to account for a slower pace. Between the abysmal traffic and early departure, I didn’t even make it to the start in time to dip onto the route ahead of the riders. Total bummer.

However, once finally on course, I would say the situation improved quite a bit: sunflowers!

 

And after the lavender fields yesterday? I was chuffed, to say the least.


Meanwhile, about that headwind... 

From listening to the race radio, I knew that the break took a while to establish itself. Seems like nobody really wanted to burn themselves out in the wind in the first place, and the peloton definitely was taking it easy after they let it go.

So you can imagine my surprise when the pack finally rolled by:

 

Virtually the whole peloton strung out! But... they weren’t chasing? Were they? In fact, they were going... slow? Weird. Either it was the slowest chase hampered by the headwind, or it was every man for themselves to find shelter. Neither would have surprised me.

Back in Le Jeep, and it was off to the next spot: the feedzone. Obviously, at the feedzone there are going to be soigneurs. Perhaps not obviously: soigneurs are chill af. 

When it comes time to feed the riders, the chill is maintained. Totally calm, hand off, hand off, hand off, hand off, hustle back to the car.


Speaking of “back in the car,” it was back in Le Jeep again for me, as I made my way to the finish as fast as traffic would allow. And wouldn’t you know? Mark Cavendish won! Again!

 

Tomorrow is a mountain stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz. It looks challenging to say the least – virtually all up, or all down.