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Watching the TDF(14 posts)

Watching the TDFCammo
Mar 26, 2003 10:03 PM
I'll be in France in July this year, and was looking for advice on watching the TDF.

We'll be arriving in Nice in early July, and heading up to the Alps to catch a couple of stages and then perhaps over to the Pyrenees.

We'll have a small car and be camping mostly.

Any tips on where to go? Is it best to try and get to the stage finish or to grab a spot on a good climb? Is the traffic a killer and there many campsites available? Is it worth getting to the flat stages? Will our Robbie win the green jersey?

Any suggestions are appreciated.

re: Watching the TDFrussw19
Mar 26, 2003 10:35 PM
I have a friend that goes every year. She tells me that on the mountain top finishes you need to get to the top very early. Almost like you have to camp out the night before the stage, but it gets really cold.. too cold for most to camp in July. But you can usually find plenty of good places to watch the climbs on those same stages if you aren't on the finish climb. Like if they hit 5 climbs that day, watch from the top of the 4th. That's what she tells me anyway.

Last year she got a really good picture of her and the Devil!

And for what it's worth, I am thinking a really good 3 way Aussie battle for the Green Jersey this year, with of course Zabel in there for good measure. I think Cooke, O'Grady, McEwan, and Zabel will all fight for it this year.

Have fun and take lots of pictures so you can post them here for us!

re: Watching the TDFPatC
Mar 27, 2003 4:50 AM
Well, you should be able to find lots of camping sites but you'd better do some booking in advance ! July is quite a busy time for tourism in France, especially in the Alps and the Pyrénées !
As for the traffic in mountainous areas, better plan your moves too...since there aren't that many roads.
It seems the best bet is to find a spot the day before but think of taking very warm clothes and sleeping bags with you (it can be so cold at night in the mountains)...unless you want to prove as enduring as the TDF riders !
It is a good thing to be not too far from the stage finish and be able to reach it after having seen the first fifty riders (a mountain bike may be quite helpful then): you will get to catch a glimpse of all the riders and their team staff - it's such an unbelievable feeling to be in the middle of it all ....
As for the flat stages, you won't see much of the riders - just a few fleeting images, hardly a multicoloured second ! - but if you are really addicted to the TDF, why not hit the stage finish ?
Something not to be missed is the Team TT. Probably one of the most exciting stages.And one of the most beautiful.
The individual TT are quite interesting too. ....
Anyway, if you are crazy about cycling, you will find the TDF holds some kind of magic.
Have a good time in July, then !
re: I have a whole packet--email meteoteoteo
Mar 27, 2003 6:12 AM

This year will be my fourth and I will be working as a guide for for a company named Veloechappe. Over the past couple of years I have helped quite a few people plan trips. Anyway, the guys so far have given you great advice--spot on from PatC.

This year I did a self-guided packet for some people who requested the help. The packet gives a stage by stage breakdown and tells you the best viewing spots for the stages as well as how to find them. Using the Michelin Touring and Motorist Atlas of France (avail at many bookstores) I provide map grid coordinates that help in the plan. I try and share the all the nuances I have learned to ramp-up your learning curve--things like road closures and the like.

I also try and add in as much local scouting info as I can. Things like where the cool bike shops are, nice places to eat, visit, yada, yada....

I also included nearby towns where lodging may be found if you needed hotels etc. Though it is tourist season you can still score hotels--you just can't guarantee it.

Shoot me a mail at and I'll send you the info.
re: I have a whole packet--email mems
Mar 27, 2003 8:22 AM
Do you have an objection if I send you an email, too, for the info?
re: Sure...mail meteoteoteo
Mar 27, 2003 7:47 PM
no experience with the TDF but...rufus
Mar 27, 2003 8:33 AM
i followed many stages of the second tour de trump back in 1990. you may want to be at the start line for a few of the flatter stages. as someone mentioned, out on the course, they'll just be a blur as they go past, but at the start line, you may have the chance to mingle with the riders, get some autographs and maybe some quick chats.

during these flat stages, especially early, the riders won't be worrying about places, or the big mountain climbs ahead, or getting focused on the time trial. these stages will probably be your best chance at finding the riders approachable, relaxed, and not too preoccupied with other thoughts.
Don't go for the race . . .ms
Mar 27, 2003 8:42 AM
Go for the experience. If you really want to see the race, watch it on television. Wherever you watch the race, you will see very little of it -- the riders pass by quickly, even on climbs. HOWEVER, I had one of the best experiences of my life watching Stage 17 live last year and plan to see a stage or two this year. The spectators, the publicity caravan, the noise of the helicopters heralding the approach of the riders -- these are just a few things that make watching the TdeF live something special. I have no concrete suggestions, other than to take food with you and be prepared to share with your neighbors -- even if you do not have a common language. Last year, my neighbors had a grill and shared sausages with me. I scarfed up loot from the publicity caravan for their children. We had a great day together even though they spoke no English and my French is what you would expect from someone who had one year of college French 25 years ago.

BTW: You also should experience watching the TdeF on French television. As much as I like Paul and Phil, you will get a different perspective on the race. Just as Paul and Phil emphasize the exploits of the English-speaking riders (e.g., David Millar, Tyler Hamilton), the French commentators emphasize the French riders. Last year, one would have thought that Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque were the only stars of the race (with the exception of some guy from Texas). Also, after the race, there is a talk show (Velo Club) with appearances by various riders -- even some non-French ones talking through a translator. I heard a much better interview with Tyler Hamilton on Velo Club than anything I heard on OLN. One final note, French television repeats the same commercials over and over again during the race, just as OLN does. The only saving grace of French television is that there are no Lincoln Navigator commercials.
Don't go for the race . . .Cammo
Mar 27, 2003 3:06 PM
Thanks all, cant wait - is it July yet?

And who is this guy from Texas?
I'm the guy from Texas...Austin to be exactteoteoteo
Mar 27, 2003 7:52 PM
My Tour alter ego pictured here....

Stage 14 2000 Col d' Izoard with the Devil.
I'm the guy from Texas...Austin to be exactteoteoteo
Mar 27, 2003 7:58 PM
2001 MTT Grenoble to Chamrousse.

Crouching in the turn....
How was the aroma?Cammo
Mar 27, 2003 10:10 PM
I heard Stuart O'Grady being interviewed once and he said the Devil had a bit of a BO problem.

I suppose 3 weeks in a red lycra suit would cause some issues for most, especially if you run up half the climbs.
Mar 28, 2003 5:00 AM
It was not too horrible but a little stinky...maybe I caught him on a good day because my nose and B.O. don't get along at all. Oddly enough the smelliest person I met was a hitchhiker the same day that devil pic was taken. Once she got in the car I was very sorry I agreed with my friend to stop.....the momento pic
If you go to France, don't the terrorists win?retro
Mar 27, 2003 8:56 AM
Makes as much sense as a lot of other stuff I've been hearing.