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.
Sunday June 8, Prologue, Avignon
The Mistral, which was blowing hard and cold yesterday, turned and softened enough not to affect the outcome of today’s Prologue.
Yesterday I flew to Nice and picked up my motorbike from the nearby offices of Nice Matin. It was a relief to be reunited with the bike that had carried Graham and me through the mountain stages of the Giro a week earlier.
Still carrying its Giro stickers and filthy from all the bad weather it started on the button and off we trundled the 150 miles or so to Avignon. I started in short sleeves but had a fleece on nearing Avignon as the Mistral was getting very chilly and buffeting the bike too.
Avignon is well worth a visit, it’s only 2 hrs 40 mins from Paris by TGV and inside the city walls is a charming warren of alleyways and cobbled lanes. Packed with restaurants and cafes it’s touristy but at this time of year relatively quiet and temperate.
Graham was shooting inside the final kilometre, near the famous Pont d’Avignon, with its four elegant arches reaching two thirds across the Rhone, but no further. It’s known as Le Pont St Benezet, but also as the Pont des Amoureux. Whatever – you will definitely know the song.
Two riders took the speed hump near us really well: John Gadret and Alexander Kolobnev – the former deftly lifted his rear disc (he’s a good cross rider) and Kolobnev kept the power on and flowed over it.
Didn’t do either much good as the guys who thumped over the bump were mostly faster.