7th of July 2007, London hosted Grand Depart of Le Tour de France for the first time in its 104 years of history. I went to see the prologue with my A-bike. This time I made A-bike back to basic by equipping its normal saddle and pedals, but it looked odd with the inverse brake lever & black bar tape, I must say. The yellow bag in the picture is the official “Tour de France kit” contains T-shirt, cap and other little bits — a nice addition to the festive atmosphere.
Road blocks and police cars reminded of the sad day two years ago. However, this year had a lot of sunshine and smiles all over the city. Ironically the 7/7 bombing boosted the numbers of cyclist in London.
London commemorated the two years anniversary of the bombing quietly in the morning, partly because of security concern. It was just a week ago London had a failed attack, and too many big events were already held in London on that day (i.e. Live Earth, Wimbledon Tennis, and Tour de France.) 45 French police officers were posted to London for Tour de France. Interestingly, they all looked cool and like fashion models… It seems somebody in French Police knows how to promote themselves to the public in Britain. (A beautiful officer featured above is from British Police though.)
Many came with their bike and some were also with their agenda to appeal to the public. I wonder if somebody did ride around representing A-bike… It will look like a joke to Tour de France Fans, but at least it’s a funny one.
Special stage and screens were set up at Trafalger Sq. for the event.
Prologue is a time trial session. From start to finish just over 7.9km, from Whitehall to The Mall. This photo was taken at the end of The Mall showing rather relaxed participants right after their goal. The overall atmosphere of the prologue was a kind of polite one. Could it be because many people in London were new to the Tour and didn’t really know how to cheer for riders, and those from France somehow reserved their attitude at this foreign turf?
DAY2: STAGE1 LONDON to CANTEBURY
The next day (8th July) was Stage1. The riders start from Trafalger Sq and finish at Cantebury for over 203km. I rode my A-bike (with Thudbuster&Eggbeater) to Greenwich, where the race really began. (From central London to Greenwich was just a mass ride for show and not counted.)
When I got there at 9:30, there were reasonably many people along the race course, but it was nothing compare to the crowd later on. Some had to climbed up the fance of Greenwich Maritime Museum and Royal Naval College to get the view.
Among the spectators at Greenwich, those construction workers on the scuff folding structure caught my eyes. What a nice auditorium that was! Look at how they kept themselves away from the sweaty crowd down there.
The riders were gone in a few seconds and actually, not much of a drama happened just yet at Greenwich since it was just a begining. Near the center of the picture, you can see Fabien Cancellara who won the time trial yesterday and got an honour of wearing the yellow jersey. He also managed to keep the yellow as over all top scorer after the stage1, but the day really belonged to Robbie McEwen who won the stage by his amaging sprint.
I only watched it on TV, but it was truely exciting to see how he revived from his late crash at the race and suddenly appeared to the top right before the finish line. Nobody expected that to happen, so ITV’s commentator shouted “I don’t know how this happened!” and their slow-motion camera couldn’t even catch McEwen on frame. If you missed it, I’m sure you can find the video at somewhere like youtube, so check it out. It’s a good stuff as McEwen said that was his “the best and most special win.”
I rode A-bike on the race course for short while to head back home, and I got many cheers from the crowd.