This morning, one of my terrific hosts took me out for a ride and put me right into the hurtbox. He showed absolutely no respect for my “Norton Legs”, as I kept yelling at him. Tonight, my legs are shot. No ride for me tomorrow. Yes, that’s right, get it out of your system, I’m soft!
Now, onto todays stage. I decided that I was going to the start again as it provides the best opportunity to get up close to the riders. There were people 5 deep at some points, so it didn’t prove to be as easy as stage 1 for some reason.
There was one person that stood out as I passed all the teams. Julian Kern from AG2R La Mondiale. He hit the deck yesterday and it looked like the first thing to donate some skin to the gravel gods was his face.
I kept walking and got the following photos.
I then saw a throng of people at the RST team mini bus. It could only be one person. The Jensie was sitting in the front seat, chatting away to his team mates and looking like he didn’t have a worry in the world. As I approached the bus a lady bought over a cup of coffee.
He called out “I want to marry you”, which went down a treat with the crowd.
I got a closer look at his bike.
That is a little hard to read, so from what I can make out of it zoomed in…
Shut Up Legs.
3,100 kg of pasta consumed
16 times around the world
11 broken bones
Nice. I think at one point he was asked by a punter how many coffees he had had.
As much as I was enjoying the Jensfest, I wandered off and struggled through the crowds. The start was only minutes away, and some riders were in a hurry back from their warm ups.
The choppers were all over head.
The count down began. Well I assume it did, those bloody helicopters are noisy.
They rolled out.
I did my power walk back to the car and jumped in to head to Stirling. After getting to Stirling, Mr Policeman pointed me down a road and because my bearings were shot, I expected it to take me where Carl and V were, somewhere in Stirling. Honestly, when I am in Adelaide, it feels like I have been spun around 100 times and told to walk a straight line. I fly off at tangents and the bloody GPS on my phone seems to have gone out in sympathy. I was sitting on 110kph on the freeway and the stupid thing told me to do a U turn in 100 metres. Imagine the carnage?
Anyway, this narrative is going about as well as my orienteering, so back to the story.
I was driving around, getting some generous applause from fans at times, when a police bike comes screaming up behind me waving his hands around like a Muppet on crack. I went around a corner and parked. As it turned out, it was a terrific spot. At the top of a pretty long climb. Before I knew it, a pair of Clarkes appeared. Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) and Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano) were in the break and coming towards me. I didn’t have much time to get composed before they had gone past me. I managed this shot, with a few others that didnt quite make the cut.
Not too far behind was the peloton. I love this first shot of Matty Lloyd.
The peloton passed and I basically followed them until I got to another point of no go for cars. I hooked a left, then a right and somehow guided myself to another road block. God almighty. I told the guy at the barrier I had dropped my press pass, showed him my “Photographer” safety vest and carried on like I owned the place. He let me through but told me not to drive right down the street. I decided to park just up the road and started on the 200m walk he told it was to the finish line. What a load of Lance Armstrong that was. I walked for a good 15 minutes. Karma I think.
Eventually I got to the course proper just in time to see the peloton roll through.
Now I have seen fans wearing their favourite riders jersey, knicks and caps. Even ride their bikes. But this George Hincapie fan has taken it too far in my humble opinion.
The peloton passed through and I wandered off down the road towards the finish line. Another long stroll. I managed to pick a spot that would mean I was too far from the finish to get a good shot of the winner, but it was jam packed, so I had to settle for a spot about 300m from the finish line. Given it was a nasty uphill finish, there was no way I would get the winner, arms raised, like I wanted.
As it turned out, I was at the end of the feed zone, so it promised to have potential.
Innovative use of stockings.
Then the peloton came through for the bell lap. There was a bit of time to get some shots off as they had slowed to pick up musettes.
And for good measure, more Jens.
It was then another wait as they lapped for the last time. There was some jostling at the barriers as the late comers and people up the road tried to get a spot. It is pretty surprising just how pushy some people can get. Thankfully today, I didn’t have to reach for the Book of Nasty Norbisms.
And here they come. First home, Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco). Well, who the hell picked that?
Matt Goss (Orica GreenEDGE) came in second looking completely stuffed.
Third home was current world champ, Philippe Gilbert (BMC).
So that was it, stage 3 done and dusted with a roughy taking the box of chocolates. Geraint Thomas (Sky) was still in the leaders jersey. A good days racing.
One thing that I still have a chuckle about. The riders have a drink, grab a snack, and then hop back on their bikes to ride back to the hotel. What is even better is that the punters get to ride with them. Here are a couple of photos of the pros riding home.
And, sticking with The Jens theme, here he is towing a peloton of nobodies up the hill.
So there you have it. My stage 3 report. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.