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Tour de France stage 7

Posted by on July 11, 2014

Even though I knew I had plenty of time to get ready this morning and find a good viewing spot at the finish for today’s stage, I still found myself waking up at 5:51am out of habit and excitement!

 

One of the people who has come to recognize me from last year’s Tour and the Dauphiné works in the live TV trucks immediately after the past the finish line. This morning he invited me to be his guest in the technical zone which was a real treat!

 

I spent the morning wandering through the maze of trucks. It’s such a monster task to move and reposition every one of these vehicles hundred of kilometers on a daily basis.

 

First things first: oral hygiene is taken seriously in the technical zone.

 

This truck bounces a satellite feed.

 

It’s not quite as heavy as it looks.

 

Truck interiors are fill with the glow of bright lights from screens and control boards.

 

Many former pros, including Laurent Jalabert and Greg Lemond, work with various networks.

 

When I walked by the NBCSN studio, Bob Roll (right) gave a friendly wave and I thought I might trip over my jaw when I saw Christian Vande Velde (he’s out of the shot unfortunately!) chatting with Bob and his colleagues.

 

The Tour is broadcast in 190 countries, though not all countries have their own media present.

 

To power all of these media trucks, there are 2 power trucks and an enormous outlet collection.

 

Miles and miles of cables are required to transport the electricity.

 

But there’s still enough room to play a little football before the race really picks up.

 

I checked out the podium from a completely new perspective to me. With the riders not due in for several hours yet, the podium was a tranquil place.

 

To capture the finish line action, photographers have a designated area both on the road and here on a mobile staircase.

 

I was given a tour of the press room where the print media file their stories. Today the press were stationed in a library but the venue changes depending in the facilities available near the stage’s finish.

 

Back at the finish line, technicians check that everything is in proper working order.

 

Four trucks, 2 levels each, line the road after the finish line.

 

Radio journalists are headquartered on the top floor.

 

The bottom floor is for television.

 

I’ve watched untold hours of cycling on TV in my life and I was excited to have the chance to say hello to cycling legend and now commentator Sean Kelly. We first met at the Tour in Corsica last year and I was impressed that he remember me at the Giro in Belfast a couple of months ago, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he remember me again today. We chatted a little and as Carlton Kirby pulled up a chair, the pair invited me to stay!

I put on a headset and suddenly the noise of the other commentators in the truck disappeared. What I hadn’t expected was to hear so many different voices talking away, offering instructions or just chit chatting, in addition to Sean and Carlton. It took me a little getting used to. I’m sure it becomes easy after you’ve done this for as long as they have but it amazed me to hear how seamlessly smooth they would be talking while someone in their ear gave a countdown to commercial or explained that the next segment would be an interview with this rider and not that rider.

 

Usually I don’t get to actually see a while lot of the race when I go to the finish because there isn’t typically a screen easily viewable. Today I watched the stage from the moment it went to air and stayed with Carlton and Sean until the last 45 kilometers. I certainly enjoyed myself listening to them discuss the proper pronunciation of Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski’s first name and watching the process of the, making and consulting notes, but I didn’t want to miss watching the riders in person, so I thanked them as graciously as I could and watched the end of the caravan come in.

 

While a handful of crashes forced riders like Stef Clement, Danny Van Poppel, and Darwin Atapuma to abandon the race today, that did nothing to slow the oncoming attackers!

 

First and second place were separated by mere millimeters, but Italian Matteo Trentin nabbed his second ever Tour stage win in Nancy today.

 

In the closing meters, Andrew Talansky tangled with Simon Gerrans and the American hit the deck. His kit torn, he pedaled in.

 

I waited for the bunch to come in and then made my way to the podium.

 

Fans watched as the last of the riders rolled in.

 

They had covered the fences so that it was no longer possible to see through them. Fortunately, standing on my toes and peeking between the slots gave me a good enough view!

 

Last minute preparations before the ceremony began.

 

Trentin, the stage winner.

 

Nibali in yellow.

 

Peter Sagan fans didn’t seem to mind that their man hadn’t won the stage and they have an enormous ovation when he took the green jersey, promoting him to toss his bouquet into the crowd.

 

Not satisfied with flags alone, the Sagan fans had half a dozen airhorns which were not necessarily appreciated by those less dedicated to the young Slovakian.

 

Sagan in white.

 

Cyril Lemoine in polka dots.

 

Swiss champion Martin Elmiger was named the most combative rider.

 

Meanwhile, Trentin and Nibali were giving interviews, presumably answering variations of the same one or two questions repeatedly.

 

Sagan signed official jerseys.

 

It’s been awhile since he won a stage, but Bernard Hinault is always in demand.

 

Less than 30 minutes after the awards, the podium area was nearly deserted.

 

Time to roll up all those cables to move on to tomorrow’s finish.

 

One of the last team vehicles to leave had Trentin sitting shotgun on his way to the team hotel.

 

As I made my way to a pâtisserie to find a treat, I passed the hotel of FDJ and Astana. I arrived in time to see a showered Jakob Fuglsang pull up arrive.

 

Nibali’s lions and a cow smooshed in the team bus window.

 

A mechanic cleaning Nibali’s bike.

 

Around the corner, the washer was going in the FDJ truck. Note all the water bottles in the side cabinet.

French champion Arnaud Démare has blue, blanc, et rouge tape on his handlebars.

 

While the mechanics were busy at work, fans checked out the hardware.

 

All in all, it was an amazing day getting to see the race from the other side of the fence!

 

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