Yes, similar to what I did for Stage 1, I attended today's stage which began at the Britannia Stadium...yes, that football ground in Stoke and ended somewhere in the city centre. I dragged along my house mate and we went to the start and finish.
Warning- Post is photo heavy, all beneath the cut! :)
Ok, so it was Stoke today, which meant an hour and a half drive, so an incredibly early morning. It's worth nothing I was dragging my house mate along and she hardly does early mornings anyway. The premise of men in lycra got her to come, but the good news is she really enjoyed herself and even enjoyed the race itself, said she wished we'd got to see more than just the start and the end. So we have ourselves a convert. Not sure I'll get her watching stuff like Pais Vasco or the Eneco Tour, but she's up for some Grand Tour stuff so i have something to work on.
So, after pretty rubbish instructions, I got us to Britannia Stadium mostly on instinct of where they stick football grounds. It's worth noting that event parking for this things has been superb, not paid once yet and always been close enough, but not too close that i'm caught out by road blocks ;) Some teams were there but only Joker Bianchi and Halfords riders were actually outside of their buses/campers.
Joker Bianchi boys (via Lucky You x)
Halford boys looked as if someone had just woken them up, this may be the case with Ed Clancy who was still wrapped up in British kit, looking very sleepy.
Ed Clancy (via Lucky You x)
I did the usual, admiring the bikes and trying to teach my house mate stuff while waiting for more cyclists to appear. I like the paintjob on Kristian House's bike to reflect his national champions kit. Pretty.
Kristian House's bike (via Lucky You x)
And of course the Candi-TV Pinarellos were lying around everywhere, but Russell Downing has the privilege of being able to use a Dogma! Ohhh it's pretty!
Pinarello Dogma (via Lucky You x)
The man who rides this bike was lurking, wrapped up warm, texting and with a nice hot beverage. It was chilly at first, but quickly warmed up at the beginning.
Russell Downing (via Lucky You x)
Determined not to forget Euskaltel-Euskadi this morning, I headed over to where they were parked up and found Sergio De Lis was just getting himself together, and he'd spotted the Zipvit Ferrari! (Yes, folks). Which he and another headed other to eventually.
Checking out the car (via Lucky You x)
So the Euski boys took photos of it like everyone else, a couple even sat in it!
Photographing the ferrari (via Lucky You x)
Though i missed the sitting because Koldo Fernandez was wandering towards me, looking pretty fresh, very Basque and mellow. He was carrying a book, a refreshing change to see, in case you're wondering it's called "Las Garras del Aguila". I wished him good luck, he smiled, i complimented him on the book which i think he understood and off he went to climb into the boot of a car via the back seat since the boot was locked.
Koldo Fernandez (via Lucky You x)
Today was a case of run around the buses and just see who's about. Unlike Saturday it seemed everyone was reluctant to come out, barr several teams and several riders. Dan Lloyd and Dan Fleeman were in fine form today for Cervelo, out chatting and taking photos and just hanging around for pretty much an hour.
Dan Lloyd (via Lucky You x)
On my way over to see what the British teams were up to (like on Saturday, Candi-TV, Halfords and Rapha Condor were all alongside one another) I saw Edvald doing an interview, talking very modestly and very quietly, but nevertheless interesting. He was talking down his chances of winning this thing, giving Reus lots of respect and generally being shy and cute.
Edvald 2 (via Lucky You x)
Oh and he also wears DC shoes before the race rather than regular boring team issues trainers that are ugly, i likey.
Edvald's DC shoes (via Lucky You x)
Back with the British teams, Malcom Elliot was lending a hand with some map reading before returning to signing things...the Candi-TV boys looked like they'd rather be left in peace this morning, not that my house mate gave them any as she took countless photos of them in the bus due to liking their kits... And British champ Kristian House was as usual busy doing an interview.
K again (via Lucky You x)
The Halfords boys seemed a lot more awake now, Andy Tennant was particularly friendly, posing for photos and being generally nice (even if he does remind me of Philip Deignan in this pic!).
Andy Tennant close-up (via Lucky You x)
Like on Saturday, I ended up at the Katusha bus as Napolitano was coming out (I did try to avoid this, I blame the fact I saw Ben Swift), today I earnt a little wink before the shades went on and a big smile, that even when Karpets came out of the bus and blocked him, he continued by leaning around. I think he thinks he knows me :S
Vladimir Karpets (via Lucky You x)
Ben Swift was on fine form this morning, still gelled to high hell, but very smiley and just sat around chatting.
Ben 3 (via Lucky You x)
Though I had learnt my lesson not to hang around the AG2R bus after Roche and Dessel have gone, we ended up next to it, due to chatting to several riders. One of the soigneurs recognised me from Saturday, damn. Lloyd Mondory I never saw, he stayed on the bus until the very end i think, ah well. I got this pic of Roche's socks, i love them!
Cute socks! (via Lucky You x)
Oscar Pujol gave my house mate and I a wave today, I like this guy. He's always happy!
Oscar Pujol waves (via Lucky You x)
Then he was sniffing the Ferrari..
Pujol smelling it (via Lucky You x)
The Ferrari that every rider seemed to love, Montfort was very interested. Some guy said to him something like "I thought you'd own one of these" and he just laughed at them, mumbled something and off he went.
Montfort wanting the Ferrari (via Lucky You x)
This was after Columbia finaaally came out. Literally the last team to sign in today. Who said Lovkvist doesn't smile?
Lovkvist 1 (via Lucky You x)
Edvald went to sign in, came back and hung with the Joker Bianchi boys, he let them steal his Oakleys and mess around with them. Very cute to see them messing around.
And again.. (via Lucky You x)
So then it was time to actually race, unlike Saturday I could get to the barriers and see them pass, the crowd was bigger than I thought but still not huge and still 90% male! Kai Reus was looking in good spirits when they set off.
Leader Kai Reus (via Lucky You x)
And somehow, despite never seeing Pippo (it's a wonder he wasn't on that Ferrari like a rash), he turned up in a pic.
Pozzato (via Lucky You x)
So with riders gone, it was time to try and find somewhere to dump my car near the finish, get coffee and camp out at the finish to get a good place. After ending up down a street i thought i could park (stupid 1 hour no return crap), i turned around to go back. Problem was it was diverting allll traffic down this street due to main road closures. And the Cervelo camper was blocking the road behind me, and the Garmin big ass bus was blocking the road in front of me. An amusing 10 minutes for sure.
We got ourselves a spot, riiight opposite the podium at 10 to 12....very early, but very worth it, having had coffee, yay.I also had this view of the finish, oh yeah.
My view of the finish (via Lucky You x)
Perfect for a shot of Edvald celebrating, right? Err...no. Blame Cervelo. They handed out this big flags and we happened to have a school trip next to us. Despite leaning so far over the barrier i thought i'd kill a rider, 90% of Edvald was obscured by a damn flag, ugh. But i was opposite the podium, so i stayed calm and resisted killing the child.
I did catch other riders going past me though. Like poor Maxime Montfort who looked sooo tired having done hard work for Edvald.
Montfort 1 (via Lucky You x)
And Dan Fleeman who thanked the crowd after his excellent effort in the break of the day.
Local boy Fleeman thanks fans (via Lucky You x)
Tony rolled in like it was the hill was a stroll in the park! :)
Tony Martin 1 (via Lucky You x)
So podium time! Here's Edvald getting his stage award...
Edvald getting award (via Lucky You x)
Pose 2 (via Lucky You x)
IMG_7826 (via Lucky You x)
Nicolas Vogondy had an amazing solo effort to get over to the breakaway so he was agressive rider of the stage.
Vogondy on podium (via Lucky You x)
Thomas De Gendt still leads the sprints competition and the KOM competition, here's one of each.
Polka dots (via Lucky You x)
Kiss (via Lucky You x)
Edvald collected the consitency points jersey as well as the leader's yellow jersey :)
Kids on podium (via Lucky You x)
Kisses for yellow (via Lucky You x)
Bringing all the jerseys onto the podium today meant it was just Edvald and Thomas!
IMG_7895 (via Lucky You x)
Every other photo I took today is all in one set.... here
I will be attending Stage 8 where I shall be meeting with Albertina, no doubt we shall take many, many photos between us, I think she'll be doing a fan post, maybe we'll combine? I don't know! Anyway, expect something from Stage 8.