Ok, so technically I'm writing this, but Albertina has photos to offer and I'm sure she'll remember something I forgot. So I met up with PdC member Albertina ready for the start of today's stage, accompanied by my house mate. We did some team member stalking, had a very long walk to the start line and watched the race and the podiums. Good times were had...
Warning- Post is veeery photo heavy!
There's no shame in being some of the first people there, right? Nope. Even if Rapha Condor, Candi-Tv and Halfords had only just arrived. Ahem. As usual they parked next to one another and began pouring out so we jumped straight in. The podium girls were in the Halfords bus but it became obvious why, the blonde one is Andy Tennant's (Halfords rider) girlfriend.
Several of the Rapha boys were hanging around. The rather fetching Tom Southam was particularly relaxed, and followed my favourite rule of wearing cool trainers with the team kit. Converse in his case!
Tom Southam shoes (via Lucky You x)
Dean and Russell Downing were both just wandering around. Russ wearing very fetching trousers rolled up, with high socks and trainers. We laughed a little at him (in a nice way) and he just smiled when he noticed. I wish i'd taken a photo of it...perhaps Albertina did? Here's Dean anyway...
Dean Downing (via Lucky You x)
Albertina got pretty excited when Kristian House appeared and we decided to introduce ourselves (he'd commented on my blog when i featured him as Thursday thighs) and he seemed pretty cool about it. Albertina did most of the talking, I didn't want to cramp her chance to chat with him, so i snapped pics. He said he just wanted to try something, anything as the Tour had been a little boring with the lack of oppurtunities for them all. The more I see his national champions kit, the more I love it. His bike is also pretty swish..
Kristian close-up 1 (via Lucky You x)
Close-up of Kristian House's bike (via Lucky You x)
Unlike the last two stages I went to the buses were very spread out, so it seemed like we'd just have to keep wandering back and forth and see what we found! We saw Russ randomly just riding around, signing autographs and chatting, in swish sunglasses. Oooh!
Russell 2 (via Lucky You x)
On our wander we came across the Agritubel boys, Vogondy gave me some crazy kind of psycho eyes he's capable of and I got to see the full extent of Brice Feillu's skinnyness! The boy needs some cake; fast. I also love his name is on his socks. The luggage i understand, the socks, err...
Hmm who's that? ;) (via Lucky You x)
Albertina made me wander near the AG2R bus, the soigneur i've seen too much recognised me, as did several of the mechanics. Cue more talking in French that i presume meant something like "Oh man, it's her again, that stalker girl who's like everywhere!" But i can't be too sure. Since there were no riders around we legged it.
Then like always I ran into the Joker Bianchi boys. Today they were wandering as Candi-TV guys passed me clutching takeaway Starbucks. Awesome! Anyway, yeah, Joker Bianchi went for a stroll. Now their shorts are baggy (thanks to Albertina for pointing this tragic thing out), Seahorse would not approve. Especially Lars Petter Nordhaug..
Saggy shorts! Tut (via Lucky You x)
Similarly to Scunthorpe and Stoke, we ran into the Cervelo Dans- Lloyd and Fleeman. They smiled, and then Fleeman forced Lloyd to pose for Albertina, so i snapped this. Nice shades Fleeman.. These two are such gentleman, really super guys.
The Dans! (via Lucky You x)
Last to arrive (like usual) was the Euski boys, who we went to see. They looked less happy than at Stoke. It's hard to see what the point of them being here was...though, to be fair, they did try today. We grabbed a few shots of Koldo and then they were all sat in the camper looking annoyed before they shut their door so we moved elsewhere. Nearby, was the Vacansoleil bus, several of their riders wandering and Martin Mortensen. At first he stretched, then he noticed the pictures being taken by us and just began posing....the result is this!
Hehe, pose (via Lucky You x)
So after hanging around Vacansoleil it was back to wandering, seeing who wasn't actually in their buses. Several teams weren't even in their lycra with 25 minutes to the start! We came across Thomas Lovkvist who'd been giving an interview and was signing anything and everything. We decided he looks so perfect he should be renamed Dollface. Anyway, during this Scott Sunderland rolls up and passes him a bag, which i'm told contains chocolate?! Trying to fatten him up, Scott? Anyway, they began speaking cryptically about something Scott spoke to someone about and was it positive or negative response (positive, said Scott). All interesting stuff. Scott also made Thomas smile and laugh, but i like this shot...he looks worried and his hair is so bedhead it's awesome! Aw!
Look of concern (via Lucky You x)
The great thing about cycling is riders just wander around. Many didn't even get recognised in their plain clothes. Dean Downing apparently didn't get asked for an autograph while ITV's Ned Boulting did (while interviewing Dean), owch! Katusha's Petrov strolled right past us in plain clothes, he went virtually unrecognised. And Ben Swift was just sat on a wall chatting to his girlfriend for about 30 minutes with no-one seemingly interested. So it was to the ISD bus where there was movement, mostly from this charming Italian- Alessandro Colo
Then we found an Euski boy...at the CSF Navigare bus, pulling a very odd pose. Nice, thanks Aitor Galdos.
Pose much?! (via Lucky You x)
The AG2R guys (CSF camper was alongside AG2R's) definitely remembered me, as did the creepy CSF guy, time to move on again...except riders were leaving the AG2R camper, so we stayed. The soigneur from AG2R thrust a rider book and a pack of the rider cards into my hand, with a smirky, knowing look. Odd. Anyway, Cyril Dessel wasn't in such a great mood today, here's a closer look at his tattoo for Seahorse ;)
Cyril's tattoo (via Lucky You x)
Nicolas Roche was as nice, charming and humble as ever. He got most animated when an Irish guy mentioned Deignan's win, he looked so excited and happy for Philip. And he posed for me...again.
Nicolas close-up (via Lucky You x)
We headed to the Rabobank bus, saw lots of Tom Stamsnijder and Graeme Brown. Kai was just coming back from a little ride, i messed up the photo of him and we didn't get a chance to speak to him. Sorry Frinkster! For some reason we ended up back at the CSF bus, they quickly got back in though and it was off wandering for us. Hanging back around Katusha, Cervelo and Columbia to see who'd emerge first. I think it was Katusha...
Pippo appeared and the people around me like threw themselves at him, since i'm not really a Pippo girl i stayed back, checking out the pretty bikes (his is gorgeous btw...photo below). So Albertina and my housemate were stalking Pippo, I was stood alone and who came out? Napolitano! :/ I had to turn around eventually, he smiled (no wink today, pft!) and said something to his mechanic, i went away... it's worth noting later in the hour, as we were heading to the start the mechanic involved in that said to me "Do you want your photo taken with (whatever his name was), he's got a reputation!" and the guy grrred at me, like a tiger or something before they all erupted into laughter and went back to Italian. Odd...Anyway, Pippo's bike.. mmm!
Pippo's bike (via Lucky You x)
Cervelo were coming out, Dan Lloyd actually said bye to us...I guess we have seen him a lot this Tour, we wished him good luck, off he went. Then Oscar Pujol and Davide Appollonio were there. Oscar I've now seen and hung around twice, so he was happy to pose for us...again. Appollonio has craaaazy hair btw, see!
Davide Appollonio (via Lucky You x)
I've sort of forgotten about ordering things properly now, but my favourite part of today was when we went back to the team buses at the end. The Cervelo car drove past us, but got sort of stopped alongside us. Inside were the above mentioned riders, Pujol and Appollonio. Pujol who was on the other side of the car, leaned over Appollonio to wave out the window at us and shout bye with a big smile. He remembers us and clearly likes us in some way, shape or form because he initiated that. Yay! He's also the smiliest, nicest rider I've met all week.
Well, closely followed by Ben Swift :)
Ben close-up (via Lucky You x)
A leg rub for Russell Downing, as many riders had headed to the start or gone for a ride.
Leg rub 2 (via Lucky You x)
While waiting for the portaloo to come free, poor Joker Bianchi rider, Sondre Sortveit was approached by an older lady who asked him inane questions like "where are you from" and then came onto him with the classic line "you have a really nice tan". He seemed quite bemused!
Sortveit up close (via Lucky You x)
We hung around the buses a while longer, admired the Rapha bikes and bike stands. We checked out the Topsport Vlaanderen guys, De Gendt said he's really enjoyed the ToB and this is a "nice country" to quote him.
De Gendt close-up (via Lucky You x)
I finally got to see Simon Clarke of ISD, he posed for us all, very accommodating, while Colo chatted to De Negri in the background somewhere. We had the pleasure of watching Clarke and Stannard mock fighting over a zipvit bar. Pretty amusing. Anyway, then it was time to head to the start, everyone happy with the collection of pics. Typically the map on the ToB site mislead us. The start was not on whitehall, so we had to walk alllll the way round. Then we missed the crossing we needed to take, tried walking round to see the start and got to a dead end, consequently missing the start.
Instead we found a barrier to stand at to take some photos of the second lap...I got Geraint Thomas attacking..
Geraint Thomas (via Lucky You x)
We charged through the crossing just as they were shutting it and found somewhere else to watch lap 4 before staking out a spot opposite the podium. We had to deal with the utter oddballs in front of us, who had no intention of moving, but with my zoom lens it'd be a perfect spot for the podium. Only problem? We couldn't really see, or should i say, get photos of the riders passing. So we took it in turns to guard the podium position while one of us went and snapped photos further down where we could get to the barriers.
It sounded like an exciting race via the commentary and looked it via the big screen, but obviously we only got shots of it to the eye. Lots of attacks and some agressive moves. Lequatre tried his hardest and Cervelo were really going for it to put Reimer into second and uproot Kai, which they succeeded in, sadly. Though i do like Cervelo. De Gendt in true De Gendt style attacked! Geraint Thomas had a damn good go as did Kristian House and so did Nicolas Roche. My shot of Nicolas Roche, Rob Hayles and Dan Craven's attack would be near perfect, except excited Spanish man's hand is in it. Ah well..
Nicolas Roche on the attack (via Lucky You x)
Our fabulous podium position meant while we could just about see the finish, you couldn't call anything after first place (it was clear Merlo had it from the celebrating) and made photos near impossible with all the hand and flag waving. I did one of Lovkvist congratulating Edvald on the way to the podium...
Lovkvist congratulates Edvald (via Lucky You x)
Then it was podium presentation time. Young Michele Merlo looked sooo happy and jubilated to be up there, very nice to see as myself and Albertina had to contend with people ramming us in the back and nearly knocking my Oakleys off with their stupid mobile phones.
IMG_8286 (via Lucky You x)
IMG_8291 (via Lucky You x)
Then Thomas De Gendt came up three times! Once for the most agressive rider trophy, then for the sprints jersey and then for the king of the mountains jersey! Happy boy :)
Trophy for agressive rider (via Lucky You x)
Flowers (via Lucky You x)
Happy Thomas (via Lucky You x)
Then we had two rounds of Edvald, first for his points/consistency jersey and then for the overall yellow jersey. To say the crowd went crazy for him is probably too mild. He's a well loved boy in London!
Got huge applause (via Lucky You x)
Kisses 2 (via Lucky You x)
Surprised? (via Lucky You x)
Yellow jersey 2 (via Lucky You x)
Oddly, they don't have a podium presentation for the top 3 riders on GC...just the jersey holders, which in this case meant just De Gendt and Edvald. It was time for champagne and posing together!
Two bottles for you (via Lucky You x)
Hide (via Lucky You x)
Podium girls (via Lucky You x)
Aww (via Lucky You x)
Post-race, it was time to meet with a twitter friend of mine and for us all to go for a drink, which meant a bottle of wine at a nice little (but very popular) wine bar, where we talked more cycling and other stuff and generally had fun. All in all, a very enjoyable day and very good to hang out with Albertina. We made quite a duo, well, trio if you include my crazy house mate!
I'm sure I've missed something/s out or made giant typos. But I've been up since 6.30am and it's now...2am the next day. Owch. Errm, so me and Albertina weren't sure how we'd do a joint post, so thinking she's adding more pics into here on the comments section? Or linking. And hopefully if i've missed something she'll add it. So much happened today it's hard to remember it all.
Oh yeah, duh, all of my photos from today are here... http://www.flickr.com/photos/lucky_you/sets/72157622412850622/