Posted by Editoress on 07/22/05
Photographer Chris Redden is back at the Tour again this year, and here are his impressions from his first day at the 2005 Tour.
Start it up< - July 21st
I was standing at the start of the race today and I realized that there is a lot of things that happen both around the start and finish that most people would have no idea about.
First off, the team busses and vehicles all have a set area to park in. This is close to the start, usually behind the start area. For the most part, this is a secure area, meaning you have to have a pass to be in that area. Sometimes it can be very strict while others can have huge crowds of fans around the busses. People like to hang out around the busses since all of the riders are in the bus waiting to come out. If you are lucky enough, when you are waiting outside the Disco bus, Lance may even grace you with an autograph. This also works for the other busses too, but Discovery is the hardest to get near.
Some teams will actually ride to the start area as a warm up from a short distance out, while other riders will warm up at the hotel or not at all. For the most part, the stages start out relatively easy, giving the riders time to warm up on course.
Before the riders start, they have to go to sign in. This is exactly what you figure it would be. The riders go up on stage and sign in before every stage. If they dont sign in, they get fined! There is even a bell rung to remind riders to sign in. It is also a signal that the race will start in 10 minutes or so.
The actual start is nothing too exciting. All of the riders are corralled into the barriered off area and wait for the start. There is a lot of joking around and strategising that happens in this are. The jersey wearers are brought up to the front of the start line for a few pictures, and then they are given the signal to start. Not a huge deal if you roll out from the back as it really does go slow until they are at least out of town, where the real rolling start takes place. I have even seen riders miss the start and go blasting out a minute after the rest of the riders have gone. Maybe those riders were stuck in the salle de bain!
At the finish the riders come across the line and are immediately surrounded by a Media Frenzy. Lance is taken straight back stage away from everyone. Lance actually has 2 bodyguards (Serge and Irwin) who make sure no one messes with him. The rest of the riders are pretty much left to fend for themselves. At the finish line most riders will take a can of Soda (Coke) or water, and roll back to the team busses for a shower and a trip back to the hotel. The Podium winners have no chance to cool down and are put up on the podium, mere minutes after finishing. The podium itself is a portable, inflatable stage that moves every night with the race. There is actually nothing but a small set of stairs behind the actual podium. Nothing-glamorous here!
The winners get interviewed for the next 20 minutes and then they are free to leave. Lance has his crew waiting for him to wisk him and Sheryl to an awaiting car.
A Few Notes for those of you watching from home:
-The OLN studio is a portable structure on the back of a truck that lifts up to give them a secluded place to do their on-air broadcast. Pretty cool! And Yes, Bob Roll does have pants on when he does the broadcast.
-Todays Icons on Lances bike mean:
Star of USA
Blue Train- Postal train of riders
King of USA as he won the Tour 4 x
4 times champ.
Eye with heart referring to a town or stage win
Lance is #1
Yesterdays icons were about Lances kids! Go figure.
-I saw the Ubber fan the Devil today. He brings a giant bicycle to some part of every stage of the Tour. He is also sponsored by Luk clutches. Nice deal!
He seems to have a nemesis out there, as there is an American fan dressed as the Angel. Lets see if we get a battle between the two of them.
-I saw Steve Bauer here today at the Postal Team bus! His crew seemed to be having a great time. One of these years I will have to try seeing to Tour this way.
I am off for another day.
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