The Chase

Stage 7 - Livarot to Fougeres

Even though this is my fourth tour, today tipped the richter scale for insanity.  Initially, it looked tough to navigate around then after closer examination and little planning, it looked like a walk in the park. 

I was far from being wrong, I truly was in the deep end. My plan was to make couple of stops and the final stop was going to be in between the sprint and feed zones. Turned out to be more closer to the feed zone. Essentially, there was a main road which I had to take to get to the finish in Fougeres which would eventually intersect with the race course. 

Early this morning, I had a deviation route planned for the feed zone and even memorised the map. The police had blocked off two possible exists and all I could do was continue on the race course till I saw a small road which was no wider than a typical Melbournian bike path. My eyes nearly popped out when I was parked cars then to make matters worse two cars were coming towards me and eventually a third one.

tdf_2015_stage_07_o-nev_2697.jpg

I did what every Italian would do, hard on the horn and when possible make the right hand gesture in harmony with the contraction of the appropriate facial muscles followed by "che cazzo voi" and "vaffanculo". I was thinking who would be so stupid enough to drive a Maserati Ghibli on a tiny country back road yet having great difficulty making a three point turn. At that point I knew I had no glimmer of hope, it was Zeeland all over!!!!!

After ten minutes, the Maserati driver managed to complete his million point turn and I was in shock and dismay. Dismay, I will never ever look at the Maserati brand in the same way after today, "bloody Maserati drivers!!!!!".  These two cars seemed like they were taking Miss Daisy for a Sunday afternoon cruise.  We parted ways at the next intersection.

The 80km drive to the finish was fraught with even more frustration because I neglected to consider country traffic. GPS was showing 4.52pm arrival time at the intersection with the race course and the race was supposed to  conclude at 5.10pm. I knew I had zero chance.

Fast forward to 90 minutes later and I am 1100 meters from the intersection and I see a long line of cars. Some cars were pulling out and I am slowly creeping forward now it was  4.55pm and 1000 meters to go. I looked at the empty left lane and I knew I had to put the foot on the accelerator and go.  It is breaking the law but this is what needs to be done at the Tour and I have seen so many French media as well as team cars do. Yet I did feel comfortable. The devil in me, made me do it. 

tdf_2015_stage_07_o-nev_5587.jpg

The police welcomed me with open arms and waved me through on to the race course. All that stress for nothing. I thought I was on the home straight but there was one last hurdle. The dreaded press parking and the walk to the finish line.

I walked in the wrong fucking direction, instead I went into the team bus area. With 3.7km till the race finish I am running to get to the finish line, dodging security, police and as I pulled my camera up, Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line. Not the most perfect composition but no point giving up when you were so close.

*Disclaimer: Yes there are spelling and grammatical mistakes. 




by Veeral Patel