This morning I bumped into Tim De Waele's motorpilot, Kim, and the first thing he said,"you should have stayed with us last night as we had spare rooms in our apartment". Only if I went to the press centre in the first place. I would have gladly cancelled my hotel accommodation in Grand-Verbe. Perhaps it's worth either paying a bit more or booking a bit early but at the end of the day budget constraints always takes precedence. first.
Today was the day for architecture throughout the entire stage. From the stage start in Rodez, to the middle of the stage which gave me the opportunity to see one of the tallest bridges in the world, Viaduct Millau. Since I had no internet last night, I didn't know if the race course offered any unique perspectives to frame the bridge and peloton so I decided to wing it.
To an extent lady luck was on my side because my hunger made me stumble across a commune in Peyre that was overlooking the bridge. This particular commune had a church, Church of Saint Christophe, built partially into a hillside. It reminded me of the Ajanta caves in India. Since the peloton was a little while away it gave me a chance to wonder around and to also look for a boulanger to grab a bite as I was starting to see stars.
Unfortunately, I could not find anything and as I was walking towards my car, I saw Kei Tsuji, trying to find parking. As I was holding on to a less than obvious spot to prevent other photographers from parking in my area. In my haste chase, I managed to roll my ankle, and I thought "oh crap, my days of being Carl Lewis are over". I hopped like a 3-legged mountain goat till I got Kei's attention and in return I got couple of small packs for biscuits and chips. I knew why Kei had stopped because we both photograph landscape images very similarly. Luckily for us we were the only ones in this location plus for the photographers on the motorbike, this wasn't an idea location to stop as the roads were extremely narrow and passing the peloton was impossible unless ASO wanted a repeat of the Hooogerland incident from the 2011 tour.
From here, it was directly to the finish line, well almost as I was planning to stop 3000 meters from the finish line itself. The climb was incredibly steep. I was hurting just by looking at it in my current fitness form.
As I had mentioned in Stage 12 post about the Manual for Speed Jerry Springer incident well there was going to be a repeat of a similar incident on the final climb itself. This morning Jim from BrakeThrough told me that it's worth stopping for the climb and Kei was planning to park at the finish and walk down 3km. On one of the hairpin turns, there was enough space to fit three cars however some of the French spectators, well initially a family dejected the idea of us having to park as it would block their view of the race as they were sitting on the embankment. All the fans eventually line up on the road rather than sitting on the embankment but they weren't taking any bar of it.
Slowly a few more people joined the argument. At this point I was starting to get impatient as my car was on the road and they were alot of cars coming up quick. The little Italian in me started to transform similarly, to the transformation of Bruce Banner into Hulk. Eventually Jim managed to diffuse the situation as I would have caused a full on riot.
I couldn't believe MTN Quebekha taking the stage win on Nelson Mandela Day. For a wild card entry team winning a stage in TdF is pretty much taking the yellow jersey home. Out of all the teams at the Tour, I am so happy to see them win as their win signifies hope just like Mandela.