Professional Cycling For the Fans - What's up with visiting the tour?
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I'm going to be in Europe in July and my life would be complete if I could allign myself with a stage beginning or finish... How would I go about doing this? Are there hotels that host tour spectators during the month of July? Should I try googling tour de France vacation deals? I'm kidding, but any insight would be appreciated
04-10-09, 08:54 AM
Cycling or spectating? I went in 2005 with my bike and rode all over southern France. I stayed near Rennes-le-Château. The Tour came through and on that day I rode south into the Pyrénees and up the Port de Pailhères to see it go past at that point. Logistics involved with that of course involve getting your bike over there and then planning at which point you want to see the Tour.
Very basically, figure out where you are going to be and then check the TDF route and pick where you'd like to intersect it. Check a bunch of guides and the web and try to find a B&B or something that will put you up for the night (unless you can just ride to and from where you currently are at). This close to the Tour, many/most will be all booked up, but you may get lucky. You could drive to and from via rental car, but just note that traffic gets backed up and then blocked a good number of hours before the race comes through and getting to the top of a mountain that way (and having a place to park) requires an overnight in the vehicle if its an important mountain.
Easiest for sure is by bike (unless you have a place in a finishing location). You can much more easily find a place to spend the night within range of any intersection point that you can ride to, ride there early in the am, wait and see it go by, and then ride back.
Good luck! Seeing the Tour in person (not to mention riding a good portion of one of the routes) was an incredible experience. Even better if you can ride up one of the HC mountains and then experience the crowd up there, but honestly, any way you see the Tour would be unbelievable. Its nothing like seeing it on TV.
04-10-09, 10:36 AM
If you have the "boules," you can do L'Etape du Tour: http://www.letapedutour.com/2009/ETDT/presentation/us/index.htm
Basically a bunch of amateurs do one of the tougher stages a day after Le Tour plows through. Looks like they're doing Mont Ventoux this year.
04-10-09, 10:54 PM
I've had success setting up portkeys in advance of the stages. That makes it rather simple to follow the action.
buy a good map and highlight the course. show up for a mountain finish at 9 or 10am and take in the sights on your walk up the mountain. The finish will be at about 4pm and you walk back to your car and off you go. great time! I have gone twice and seen finishes in Alps and Pyrenees. 3 stages in alps and 5 in pyrenees. also one start in pyrenees. finishes are much better.
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