On The Road at the Tour de France: Last night was amazing – the roar on the Champs-Elyseé was deafening
Martin Ayres hands over to his colleague Neil Thompson at Jaguar for Tour de France 2013. Neil has worked at Jaguar for a similar time as Martin, but feels less inclined to name a number! He also was the first embedded performance mechanic with the team in 2011, and here picks up the ‘On The Road’ Blog. Like Martin, he is a big pro cycling fan now after spending time with the team.
As I drove off of the Eurotunnel this morning, it felt simultaneously like I had never been away, and as though it had been years since my last visit to the UK. It’s been four weeks since I was home, but the amount of travelling and different scenery that we have seen makes it feel like a long time. On the other hand, we’ve been so busy that it has felt like no time at all. More than any other sport, cycling revolves around change – in scenery, champions, teams, provinces, people, and just about everything. It’s that which makes the Tour such an epic journey and I am sure no-one involved would have it any other way. Well, it couldn’t be any other way otherwise it would not be the Tour de France!
I remember the Tour in 2011 was pretty exhausting, but this year was just a different race altogether. What has been most noticeable has been the sheer number of people that have attended each stage. I think there’s a niche market for crowd control for cycling teams, after the number of people that have crowded the bus and team area every day. That said, it’s the beauty of cycling that fans can get right up close to the riders and feel involved, and long may it continue.
Last night was an amazing experience too. The roar that went up as the peloton entered the Champs-Elyseé was deafening, and as a hot night came to a conclusion and the atmosphere ramped up a few degrees, the emotions of the past three weeks were released through much cheering, hugging and handshakes. You could see the delight in the team’s eyes and young Pete Kennaugh was visibly awed by it all. The fact that the team rode across the line as one is a mark of Froomey’s class too. He didn’t mind the time loss, he wanted to share a very special moment with his Team and I don’t think anyone will begrudge him that. When you consider that two of the Team had to pull out, the achievement is made even more special. On that note, I’ve managed to get a cheeky shot of the special Jaguar F-Type (right) that has been prepared to be presented to Froomey today in celebration of the Team’s achievement. Now that is a pretty stunning machine!
Lastly a few thank-you moments. First off to Dave B and the management team, who always had a moment to say hello and ask how things were. Then to all of Team Sky – especially my room mate Soren, for his great humour despite our overall state of tiredness much of the time. Last and but certainly least, to the riders! They have kept us on the edge of our seats for the past three weeks and it has been truly brilliant. In the same manner as Martin did last year, I would like to say Chapeau, Team Sky, Chapeau, Sir Dave Brailsford, and Chapeau, Froomey.
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