Tour de France 2012 - Stage 20
We weren't really planning on seeing the finale of this year's race in Paris, but...
Circumstances conspired to place us in Paris this weekend so it really would have been very silly to miss the finish. However, I had heard lots of bad stories about the crowds and was a bit apprehensive. To be honest you have to expect this and things weren't really that bad.
What I will say though, is because of the number of people who obviously flock to the circuit around the Champs-Elysees and Jardin des Tuileries the police have to be very strict. This, combined with some poor barrier placement, makes it harder to see and feel close to the race as we had at all the other stages.
Just one example of this: the road between Jardin des Tuileries and the Seine is between three and five lanes wide along it's length. Every stage elsewhere, even sprint finishes, manage just fine with two lanes. This means that the organisers really could have taken at least one lane of the road for the crowd. They didn't do this though, which left barriers placed along a line of trees meaning it was next to impossible to look down the road and see the race coming (all one could see was the trees). Doh!
That said, this day wasn't about getting close to the action or taking any technically perfect pictures (not that I've managed that so far am sure!)... it was just about being in the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere. This, I think, we managed just fine
Support for Brits: couldn't really move without seeing another Union Jack. Must have been great for the (GB) riders.
Soaking up the atmosphere and mingling with the (just bearable) crowds. Can you spot Mr Bean in there somewhere?
Sky lead first laps. Barriers & trees made it hard to see much but a blur by the river so we moved on from this spot.
Plenty of racing going on in the early laps, but quite hard to keep up with it all with no commentary!
A peloton on the chase lead by Liquigas & Sky.
The day pretty much belonged to Team Sky, Wiggo & Cav. On the front pretty much the whole day too.
Moving around the course between laps is good, but sometimes one is caught out & just sees the race from afar
In the cheap (free) seats for the last corner Watch the road then watch the screen. History being made!
The day after. Time to check out the road surface on Champs-Elysees. Fancy sprinting down here on a bike?
By Arc de Triomphe the day after: don't know where official vehicles go, but how they get there now no mystery