Tour de France in St Girons

The day on the road with the Garmin Slipstream soigneurs passed without incident despite the warnings from Jonathan Vaughters that it would be a long, hard day for me.

Whether he thinks journalists are lily-livered lightweights who can’t hack it in the real world, I’m not sure, but it was a good day all round.

Admittedly, I was back in my hotel eating dinner while the real workers were still dealing with the laundry. And I did have the sick bag ready in the back of the car as we came down Port d’Envalira at a fair old lick. Puking in Garmin’s motor would have been very bad form and probably got me thrown out and abandoned in the middle of the Midi-Pyrenees, so I focused on the horizon, got my bearings and got my act together.

The feed zone went well. Handing up bags on a stage where the bunch has split into several groups with sizable gaps between them made locating the nine Garmins fairly easy. A flat stage where a couple of hundred fast-moving riders hit you in one go must be a tougher gig. I got lucky there. 

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That’s the thing with the Tour: everything is done at a fair old lick. The massed racks of team cars headed for the feed zone and press cars aiming for the finish town hack along at a ludicrous speed. You just have to go with the flow.

The Wacky Races nature of the drive to St Girons takes an even more bizarre twist once you get mixed in the tail end of the publicity caravan and start weaving your way past slow-moving vehicles disguised as sausages or giant car tyres.

Anyway, we made it one piece and that is the end of my mini stint from this year’s Tour. The vastly experienced Lionel Birnie takes over at the wheel of the Skoda for the next leg. This greenhorn is signing out. And looking forward to next year already.