Monday, June 8, Nancy-Dijon 228km

Got back from the Giro last Tuesday morning and had five days at home. On Sunday morning the alarm was set for 6am for the 300 mile ride to Nancy and stage one (14km TT) of the Dauphine Libere.

A short week, but a good one, with garden visit to Great Dickster (fell asleep on bench), strimmer bought, friends visited, the Twenty20 opener at Lords (beaten by Rabobank, grr), and  Triumph Tiger titivated for this trip (Dauphine then Tour of Switzerland).

What a contrast the Dauphine is compared to the Giro. When I think of the Italian race it’s full of colour, mostly the pink balloons and clothes worn by the endless corridor of fans. This year’s race was also blessed with fab weather, with only one day when it rained.

In eastern France today it was cloudy, it was pretty fresh, and it rained towards the end of the stage when David Millar must have taken every risk on the rounbabouts into Dijon as he made a heroic attempt to outwit the sprinters.

The reception is more reserved here, partly because the race has started further north where the new owners of the Duphine Libere newspaper are located. But you also get the sense, especially on the streets of Nancy, that cycleracing is not relevant anymore, does not raise the passion, has become a curiosity.

Today we rolled through farming villages in deep countryside. Knots of spectators wore wellies and woolly jumpers but still to be enjoying a short break from the fields and workshops.

The dry stone walls and houses built with sandy coloured stone reminded me of Wiltshire as we headed south towards the great wine region of Begundy.

We are travelling with L’Equipe here. That is the photographer Fred, his driver Marco and the bagagiste Bernard, an amazing bloke of 76.

Marc was the one who repaired his shoes at the start of the Giro with a needle and thread stashed away on his motorbike. I also just heard that he got through the whole Giro with one shirt, one pair of trousers and one pair of socks. He washed them most nights. He doesnt wear pants.

Luke Evans is a cycling journalist, author and former editor of
Cycle Sport magazine. In his spare time, he pilots top cycling
photographer Graham Watson at the races. Currently, he’s taking Graham
around the Dauphine Libere in France. You can see Graham’s photos in
our gallery section