Sunday 24 July
Today was all about watching the real Tour arrive in Paris, so we had a leisurely morning of breakfast and an art exhibition, then walked miles around crowd barriers to get our place in the Grand Palais grandstand on the Champs Elysées to watch the Tour. The arrival of the peloton was very exciting and the crowd went mad at every passing of the 8 laps the riders do around the final Louvre-Arc de Triomphe circuit. Mark Cavendish did his trademark sprint under our noses to win the stage and the green jersey and there were quite a few shouts of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie…’ as Cadel Evans won the maillot jaune in a total time of 86 hours and 12 minutes, just a touch quicker than us!
It has been epic as expected. We’ll miss all sorts of things, the mileage, the mountains and the maillots. We’ll miss seeing elaborate bike decorations wherever we go, people clapping & cheering when we cycle past, the look of horror on a waiter’s face after his beautifully arranged breakfast buffet is decimated by 6.10am, starting the day in another inauspicious lay-by but ending in elated triumph at some stadium or on a mountain top. We’ll have to revert from measuring time in kilometres and days of the week as stages 1-21. And what we won’t miss…nothing!