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.
Tuesday June 10, Stage 2, Bourg St Andeol – Vienne 184 km
We stayed in a great logis (small hotel usually with a good restaurant) last night. It was in a tumbledown village nestling in the lower part of the gorge in the Ardeche, called St Martin d’Ardeche. You could have a super biking holiday here with canoeing also popular in these parts.
The village has lots of cafes and several places to stay and on a warm June evening the narrow suspension bridge (1905) is a great place to hold hands and dream. Max Ernst, the painter, lived here from 1937-1940. The logis is called L’Escorbille (www.hotel-restaurant-lescorbille.com)
Today was much like yesterday – rubbish early break, held at four minutes all day while peloton rides along in teams chatting. Then pace picks up with 40 km to go, break is crushed and big sprint follows.
This is bike racing as it has been since the first road races at the turn of last century, when covering the ground from A to B was all part of the business of a stage race. It’s not spectacular, but there is a timeless quality to the languid procession through vineyards basking in the sun, and past factory gates where workers have for a century or more wandered out to clap a bike race as it rolled by.
A thunderstorm hung around for the last 50 km and when it finally rained, the big splashes of water turned almost instantly to steam on the hot blacktop.
Great to see Hincapie win a stage as he is one of the veterans of the peloton and one of the first to congratulate him was Michael Rogers, his Australian team mate, who is coming back from illness but looking pretty sharp. He was as happy as the granite jawed American and it will be interesting to see how he goes in the TT tomorrow.