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TdF day one

July 11, 2007

Watching the Tour de France on Blackfriars Bridge on Sunday morning I was once again reminded that cycle racing is like one very small part of a tennis match: the ball’s in the air, everyone’s all anticipation, here comes the stroke, then WHACK! everybody’s heads turn to the left; then you go home to watch the rest of it on telly. I guess it’s about being there, the spectacle, the ambience, the rubbing of shoulders and the mingling with one’s peers, more than about the result or the competition, from the point of view of the roadside spectator.

TdF prologue

On the first day, the day of the prologue time-trial, the crowds were daunting – there were estimates of a million or so people out to watch the riders whizzing around Hyde Park and in front of Buck Palace. I spent some time hunting for the free swag that I reasoned must be available in such a marketing frenzy, but there was surprisingly little to be found, and for what there was, the competition was fierce. T-Mobile were the most generous on the first day, but despite the large numbers of people wearing inflatable pink hands, and wearing silly pink cycling caps I couldn’t for the life of me find anyone distributing. Damn, I wanted one (or two) of those caps – not for themselves, of course, but I had made the effort to get to the Tour, and now the sponsors owed me free stuff!

So we saw a couple of the (earlier, slower, more unknown) riders flash past, then fought our way back through the crowds, then along the strangely empty streets a block back from the main event, then home, vowing to score better the next day.

Overall, a fine day out. I’m actually fairly pleased I didn’t come home with lots of crap, especially ‘merch’ crap. And I did get to see Le Tour up close, which I’ve wanted to do for a long time now.

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