July 18, 2012

Team Dave Ride Le Tour de France..Literally!

Côte de Seraing (Avenue du Centenaire)

The crowd wait in anticipation as TD crest the
Cote de Seraing
A bizarre set of circumstances in Liege found TD riders Doc 'Brad' Haynes and Peloton Long alone on the actual Tour de France circuit climbing to the Stage 1 finish line just 30 minutes ahead of the actual leaders surrounded by thousands of cheering fans! .....And to stir the crowd even more Long was dressed in an authentic Yellow jersey and Haynes top to tail in Team Sky! A Cancellara versus Wiggins play-off. Bizarre, unbelievable and any other expletive you can think of - this was a ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE!
Is that TD or Cancellara climbing the Huy?
To keep the story short, the TD riders had circumnavigated themselves from Liege to Huy (to climb the famous Mur de Huy-Wall of Huy) and found themselves running late to greet the Stage 1 finishers in Seraing. After reaching the summit in Huy it was clear the boys needed to get a move on - so it was a case of heads down, bums up and riding at 28mph on the Belgian flats and relying on the trusty Garmin GPS. Things progressed well until they hit the closed roads of Le Tour as the Caravan (sponsor's parade) was trickling through. The Garmin GPS struggled to find an alternative so a decision was made.....blend in discretely with the Caravan and get as close to the finish line as possible to hopefully watch a Brit crossing the line in first place.

TD blend in with Le Tour's Caravan in an
attempt to sneak to the finish line
Well this is the twist in the tale... the crowds were actually convinced TD was 'in' the caravan due to our pukka Le Tour attire and started to cheer and applaud us! And what fun as we blew kisses and played to the Wallonian masses. Hilarious! That was until we suddenly found ourselves trapped in by the barriers and hitting the CAT 4 finishing climb of the Cote de Seraing - 2.4km of leg killing steepness - surrounded by thousands of cheering tour fans! Already with 70+ miles under our belts on just a croissant, mars bar and couple of gells, believe me the tank was empty on the cobbles before the first ramp even started. Only pride and humiliation of  failing and hiking the bike over the barrier in front the multitudes enabled Long to clamber to the top - Haynes meantime spinning his way up nicely and thoroughly enjoying the stage win!
4.7% average - Dressed in yellow & Sky in
front of 5000 fans = feels like 25% !

Anyway - as we both made it to the summit we were casually greeted by one of the local Gendarme who rather than arrest us, simply opened the barrier 1km from the yellow clad finish line and waved us through! A swift cool beer and in no time the real Cancellara n 'all came speeding through - how good is that!

ProLog Day

Whilst the Team Dave Le Tour experience has been described back to front, the first day was equally as good. With VIP pit passes courtesy of Doc Hayne's brother (Head of PR at Sky), TD spent most of the day with the Sky team itself literally inches from Wiggins, Froome, Cavendish n' all! Plus to top it, full access to the VIP hospitality offering the finest in French catering. With clear blue skies and temperatures in the 30s the TD boys were thinking they were actually starring in a Carlsberg advert...(if Carlsberg did cycling tours..etc). This was getting too good to be true. 

I will leave you with some pics of the weekend......all in all a PERFECT trip and one to be remembered forever.

The real Brad at close quarters - courtesy of Sky VIP pass!
Haynes and Long prior to conquering
 the Wall of Huy!
French hospitality at it best!

Doc crests The Mur de Huy

Le Start of Le Tour - Unbelievable crowd passion