The strangest stage of the whole race from the point of view of the staff is the finale into Paris. Our team base is in northern Spain, and so all non-essential equipment went from Bordeaux back to Spain (rather than go to Spain from Bordeaux via Paris — a 1200km detour). Thus we were truckless (or untrucked?) for the only time in the race. Very Tardy.
Atop this, the staff were spread through three different cities. We had a skeleton crew with the boys in Bordeaux, a basic race crew stayed halfway between Bordeaux and the final start town in Blois (I love saying that word out loud — I think I only narrowly avoided being murdered by some team mates who were less happy with me saying it at every opportunity), and the rest of us stayed in Paris: a very odd deal.
The day itself was quite hectic finding all of the families and partners of the riders and staff and getting them to the team area to watch the race from inside the fence. The problem is partially due to the number of people involved, but mainly that there are kajillions of fans around, and all of the race roads are closed.
We were finding needles in a haystack that was sitting in a labyrinth: thank goodness for mobile phones and Garmins! We did eventually bring everyone to where they needed to be (including an “inadvertent” lap of the Champs Elysee behind the promo caravan) and settled in to enjoy the show.
Being constantly in contact with the race, we get a little blasé about the travelling circus that is our workplace, so it is good to be reminded of how cool the scene we work in is by the reactions of the outsiders.
As the boys finally arrived on the Champs, we all found our spots to watch the final act, which had Julian Dean again in a prime position, bopping out a 3rd place. This was his fourth top 3 finish of the race, a consistently brilliant month-long performance. Couple this with Ryder taking out 7th overall, and we couldn’t be happier with our results, particularly considering the setbacks we suffered early in the race.
The post-race ritual begins similarly to every other stage, and yet finishes completely differently. The mad rush for the hotel is normal, but instead of kit off for massage and then tracksiuts and head down for some hearty food, it’s dress up fancily to enjoy a fantastic team dinner overlooking the Eiffel Tower, followed by a mini gig by the band N.E.R.D. in a swanky club in Paris. A top way to cap off a great Tour.
Well done to the lads, and the crew, for getting the job done with such panache.