Velogal's Blog

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The photo is of the last riders to arrive in Stage 8. Looks like Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen get along fine when they’re not sprinting…

The word for this day’s stage is late… I left late for the start, then missed an exit to Pforzheim: had to backtrack, and got stuck in ugly traffic thru downtown to the Depart parking for cars with blue race course passes. The Caravane Publicitaire headed out about 10 minutes after I parked. I followed them again today – it was a long drive. And it was a long, hard ride for the teams.

The number of people along the route was mind-boggling – I have never seen so many people along the route in the towns and on the flats, as well as the mountains. It looked like the entire population of Germany was standing along the road. It was like a never-ending party. In Germany, the people hollered “Allo” as I drove by – I am used to hearing “Bon Jour” or “Salut”. I could tell when we entered back into France by how I was greeted.

I think I’ve talked before about the different colors and categories of accreditation for press vehicles. I have a blue sticker, which means that I follow the publicity caravan, which has an Official Vehicle (with flashing lights and loudspeaker) that follows behind the caravan and supervises all upcoming race traffic. As we learned with Lance’s attempt to not wear the yellow jersey, the Tour de France has rules for everything, and there rarely are exceptions. The rule for my blue sticker vehicle is that I do not - absolutely do not - pass that Official Caravan vehicle. When it stops, I stop, along with all the other blue sticker cars. So if the Official guy stops to talk to somebody, we all stop and wait. If he stops to water the sunflowers, well, we are supposed to wait for that, too.

A couple of stages ago, I was the only car behind him, and he pulled over to the side of the road. Well, I knew he was stopping to take a leak, but I had to stop right behind him. So I was thinking that I had better pretend to read a map or something… It was a rather funny, awkward situation. After a couple of minutes, the man walked back to my car and said, in his most Official Voice, “You may proceed, Madam”. Then we grinned at each other and I drove slowly on past. He caught up with me a few minutes later and took his Official Place ahead of me…


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