Thursday, August 6, 2009

July's Epic Travel - Le Tour - Part Four

Pre-Saint-Didier sprint point, stage 16. To get there, we had to cross the alps, and wish a bon voyage to Switzerland. There was some good road art on some of the few protective structures along the pass.

Note the glacier in picture three and Mont Blanc in picture four.

Then, for a brief while, we had to say au revoir to France too, and take the 11km (and FORTY ONE EURO) tunnel to Italy, where we arrived JUST in time to see the bunch go through the sprint point. We had some issues with road closures (unrelated to the race) and trucks over mountain passes. We actually missed the three leaders, but we saw everything else. This was the final 100m, with the Italian alps in the background.

The caravan behind the first chase group.

The first chase group that mattered/the Astana group. There is also a Schleck in there.

Tommy V. and Cadel, chasing.

The Bus.

Man Missile.

The Italian Alps.

It was our own little race to get to the sprint point, but it was well worth it. Not only was the scenery amazing getting there, but we got a great view of the whole race, since it was a bit slower because of the base of a climb. The whole thing really is quite a spectacle, because of the riders, the team cars, the official cars, and the fans. And it's quite a party. After the race went through, we went and watched the finish in the "town" square on a not big enough TV with a couple hundred people.

After it ended, we popped back into France for dinner in Chamonix. Talk about a big ass mountain. This place makes Vail look like a joke. Aside from being able to ski into different areas and countries, the village was insanely big. And based on the stuff for sale in the shops, the bling factor puts Vail to shame too. I think I'd like to head back with the snowboard!

Arguably my favorite thing about this day is something that is uniquely European. In the span of a day, I was in three countries and spoke four languages (three of them dismally, one of them badly). Where else can you do that?

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