Paris-Nice 2012

Being in France, less than two hours drive from a couple of stages of the Paris-Nice 'race to the sun', and being keen cycling fans what is one to do?

We drove to Mende one afternoon to catch the end of the stage into that town, then the following morning headed over to Suze-la-Rousse for the start the following day.

Sadly our plans to catch the finish on that first day were scuttled by a closed road but we still managed to catch an all-to-brief sight of riders at the final sprint point 3km from the finish before running into the cafe right next door to see the action unfold up the final climb.

Catching the start of the following stage was, I think, much more interesting and impressive. As well as being able to get up close and personal with the teams and equipment bonus points were awarded for an encounter or two with some of our favorite riders. We then got to watch the neutralised peloton leave behind the race referee. A great day - the start of a stage race is highly recommended from this experience!

14:30

The road we intended to take was closed, so ended up driving final 20km of the course. Are we supposed to be here? wink

14:50

Waiting in a local cafe bar for the riders. The barman keen to show off their cycling memorabilia. Very impressive!

15:08

Frederik Veuchelen takes out the final sprint with 3km to go, with the pack closing in fast.

15:08

The pack looking for points in the final sprint. Janez Brajkovic & Robert Kiserlovski are the Astana riders taking them.

15:08

Some you win...? Think these guys were in the break all day. Looks like they won't enjoy the climb to the finish.

15:09

Team cars and stragglers coming through well after the leaders finished. Some of them looking happy to have 'rested'.

17:30

A rather special traffic jam on the way home. Still, teams heading this way mean we get to see them again tomorrow smile

09:29

Radioshack Nissan Trek were out first. Bus had cool team listing. Bikes & car looked great with matching matte paint.

09:35

Race referees... playing it safe with the comms gear?

09:53

Lots and lots... & lots and lots... & lots of bike bling! Cofidis Look just have the edge I feel though. Dribble tongue

10:43

Rob & Simon Gerrans, Aussie road race champion. Doing it tough after a crash but still time for fans smile @simongerrans

10:48

Pratiwi with (& collecting signature from) Heinrich Haussler. I'm a fan too, but she looks better in the pic wink

10:51

A very happy Rob & Mark Renshaw, who'd just completed adjustments to his bike at 9 minutes to 12! @Mark_Renshaw

11:02

A neutralised peloton leaving Suze-la-Rousse - not that you'd think that by looking at the angle of that cornering!