SAINT GAUDENS, FRANCE
I saw a mountaintop pass of the Tour, I’ve been at the finish for another, and today would be a day to see a start stage. Stage 14 of the Tour de France is from Saint Gaudens to Plateau de Beille.
Adiran Register and I drove to St. Gaudens, parked, then used our bikes to try to find the team buses and sign-in. The streets were narrow and confusing but we eventually found a long line of buses. Much of the interior of the center city was blocked off for guests with private passes. VIPs.
We decided to hang out at the Leopard-Trek bus as Adrian Register has a “Shut Up Legs” t-shirt he tried to get autographed by Jens Voigt.
No one was coming out although a few people seemed to have good luck handing items to be sent in the R.V. and signed. By whom is the question.
Unlucky to get any autographs, once the riders departed for the stage start, we tried to get to the roll out. A number of “fans” saw Adrian in his full FDJ kit and wished him good luck. It was pretty cool that they thought he was a pro rider. No mistaking me for a pro rider though.
|Tour de France Souvenirs|
We missed the roll out, probably because we went in the opposite direction, but we followed the course for a few kilometers just stretching out our legs. Just as we were ready to turn back into town, I spotted it. A Tour route sign that had not been claimed.
I was not willing to take one down before they went by but this was on a signpost – right in front of two Gendarmes. I looked at Adrian and he looked an me and I knew I had my prized souvenir. Except we had nothing to remove it with. Adrian asked the Gendarmes if they had wire cutters. They didn’t. But removing a tool from my toolkit on my bike, and enough twisting and pulling, the wire holding it finally broke loose.
I now have one of the prized signs. Vive le Tour! *
After the stage we drove back to St. Lary-Soulan and I said goodbye to Adrian while meeting his grandparents. Cool thing: As we pulled Adrian’s bike out of the car his grandmother grabbed the loose rear wheel and put it right on the bike.
*UPDATE July 8, 2017 – Almost six years after acquiring my prized possession, I let it go. Rather than sit in a box in the basement, it deserves to be displayed.
I took it to Bicycles and Coffee bike shop (and coffee) in Purcellville where everyone can see the sign.
Nicole was so appreciative she gave me a copy of her book, Under the French Blue Sky.
Scott & Nicole – Enjoy! Vive le Tour!