After taking up cycling about four years ago, I started to be more interested in the Tour de France. Last year my wife would say it was an obsession as I watched OLN (now Versus) each night. At that time they mentioned that the start would be in London in 2007, and I told her right off that I was planning on going to see it.
So my 6 yr old son and I jumped on a train Friday night and watched the Prologue and Stage 1 on Saturday and Sunday live. We hit the Science Museum Saturday morning for my son. Then about noon we set up camp waiting for the 3pm start. The Prologue is an individual time trial, with each rider starting about 1 minute apart. With almost 200 riders it takes about 3 1/2 hours. The pre-race caravan that comes through was pretty fun–the race sponsors throw sweets, pens, key chains, etc. It was cool seeing the riders come by but they generally start with the lower ranked people. There was a huge crowd, and it was a little uncomfortable standing up and squeezing out a spot from those that came later than us. My son eventually got too bored to hold out, so we gave up our spot and walked around. We checked out a few areas that have screens, and that was more engaging, especially when we also got to see Cancellara and Klöden provide quite a run for the lead.
For Sunday, we set up in Greenwich (where the meridian–0 degrees longitude–is, it’s a quite nice area we plan to explore more of), right near the start. People didn’t pack in as early as yesterday, but by the time of the race it was just as busy. It is a quick experience as they race by, but it was cool to be there. I would say that being near the screens does provide a bit more excitement. The finish, which I later watched on TV, was one of the most exciting that I’ve see. Robby McEwen got caught in a wreck with about 25 km to go and hurt his wrist. His team stayed back and helped him rejoin the peleton with just a few km to go. In the last couple of hundred meters he showed up out of nowhere and won by a full bike length.
Lance Armstrong retired a couple of years ago with a record 7 wins and in the last year doping charges have cleared out several other old power houses so the race is wide open.
Allez Andreas (Klöden)!