Luke Evans is motorbike driver for top cycling photographer Graham Watson at the Dauphine Libere. Aside from piloting motorbikes, Luke is an author, freelance journalist and former editor of Cycle Sport magazine. A selection of Graham’s photos can be seen in our gallery section.
Thursday June 12, Vienne – Annemasse, 193 km
At last a stage befitting the 60th edition of the Criterium du Dauphine Libere. An exciting ‘parcours’, heading east from Vienne with great views of the noble Rhone river, then into lumpier territory in the Haute Savoie as we hit some proper climbs going north towards Geneva and its adjacent French town, Annemasse.
The first hour was covered at 46 kph, the bunch snaking and temporarily splitting as breaks tried to go free. When a 16-man group eventually clipped off the usual happened: half the bunch stopped for a pee while the other half rode along and resumed conversations that had run on far too long already during stages one and two. That was a bit boring, so we went up to the break and got some shots there before going ahead to the first of three climbs.
The Haute Savoie is not spectacular but you know you are in hill country and the roads here are ace for racing. We went through Frangy, where my old mate Andy and I stayed when we rode down (on motorbikes) to see the Dauphine in 2005. That was a fantastic trip, one day to Frangy from Calais, then two stages of the Dauphine, one over the Joux Plane and the other, circuits of the old World’s course at Chambery. It was the last time I saw Lance Armstrong racing (he retired six weeks later after Tour win number seven). Just shows what you can do in four days from the UK too.
Thomas Voeckler attacked just as we were photographing his breakaway group but he was history by the time we hit the fierce incline of the first category La Saleve, 17 km from the finish. This climb has some very steep hairpins and averages 9.2 per cent for its 7 km.
Going back to the main group, yellow jersey Valverde looked well in control, while Leipheimer was out of sorts and Evans wasn’t giving anything away – so it’s looking good for the Spaniard now.
PREVIOUS DAUPHINE BLOGS
Wednesday, stage three: Luke checks out Cadel Evans’ TT bike
Tuesday, stage two: Moto pilot Luke sees Hincapie win
Monday, stage one: Luke spots some prototype gear and talks to Charly Wegelius
Sunday, prologue: Moto pilot Luke is back in action after the Giro