Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Le Tour part four: les coureurs

Finally, the bikes came by. And then it was over. Seriously, they go by so fast that you wonder what all the fuss was about. There's not even time to spot your favorite racer. Unless you know he's at the head of the pack. But first, you hear, then see, the helicopters.

The helicopter that provides aerial images of le peloton (the pack) throughout the race.

The sound of that many bikes racing by is memorable. It was a very subtle, but strong, whoooosh over a base of whirrrrr. Got it? There are over one-hundred fifty cyclists in the pack. I'm underestimating because I think there were over one-hundred ninety that started out.

The leaders of the pack on Friday. I think there were four.

Four racers were out in front by about five minutes. They're called la tête de la course (the head of the race) and are effectively the stage leaders at that particular point in the race. They have their own escort and television cameras because, well, they're out in front.

And here they come!

The actual leader of the race isn't necessarily out in front. It's very complicated and I don't rightly understand it, so I won't attempt to explain it here. But the leader wears le maillot jaune (the yellow jersey) and is often found somewhere in the larger pack. But of course, he's nowhere to be seen in my pictures.

And there they go! It's over in a flash.


  1. You should have asked one of them for an interview. m.

  2. I believe the guy wearing the yellow was in the peloton, somewhere ear the middle.

  3. Rick - Thats Lycra.
    Cubby - It's fantastic
    Mark - Only ask the Aussie guys for an interview but not Cadel coz he's a little shy.
    Starman - If Thor was in yellow that day, he lost it and had to go back to his world championship jersey he won in Melbourne.
    Walt - Ooops sorry, forgot, this is your blog but I will explain all about Le Tour next May over a glass of Touraine of your choice. The Tour is on, so off I pop.
    Loving your TdF posts.

  4. Leon (and Sue) you cracked me up early this morning;)- thanks for those explanations.

    There are many times when I see the whole pack going along together, so it's nice to know that the leaders are in a different spot racing away.

    This is the first year I've been able to watch the coverage and I think I'm getting a little hooked. Women's soccer is must-see today. USA vs France!

  5. Walt

    are you watching "the beautiful game"- football tonight?

    Semi-final Women's World Cup : USA-France


    Thor lost his yellow on Sunday to the Frenchman Thomas Voeckler - all those crashes that day made Thor lost some valuable time. I doubt Voeckler can repeat what he accomplished in 2004 - wearing the yellow for 10 days- the mountains are coming.

  6. I am in awe of their ability to stay upright in that mob. "Whooooosh over a base of whirrrrrr"! Beautiful description!

  7. Exciting to watch. There's advrtising everywhere - even on the seat of their spandex (or is it lycra) shorts.

  8. Excellent photos Walt. Enjoyed todays stage - GO CAVENDISH! Stunning scenery today from the overhead shots.

  9. But STILL...even if brief, it's got to get the heart bumping! So exciting!

  10. Leon, I watched the beautiful game. And am now watching Japan-Sweden ("working at home" today, don't tell). Walt, these photos are really exciting. You captured it well. Kind of reminds me of when I was on the infield of the Kentucky Derby and the horses whooshed by. But you had a better perspective (and more competitors) for the Tour. Well done.

  11. The sound of the bikes must be unlike any other noise.

    On June 19, Portland had the annual Naked Bike Ride with 10,000 naked riders through the city in the evening. A typical Portland affair.

    Really enjoyed the series, young man.

  12. But it all looks beautiful on TV when seen from the air.

  13. rick, it doesn't take much, does it!

    cubby, glad you liked it. It's over now. ;)

    mark, yeah, that would have happened.

    starman, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    leon, lol! Lycra is a proprietary name for spandex. It's the same thing. Ha!

    balimoz, yes, it can be fun!

    evelyn, I watch mostly for the scenery, but you can't help getting into the race itself, even if just a little.

    t.b., no, I'm not watching the football.

    mitch, there's a big race in Spain called la Vuelta toward the end of summer. Keep your eyes out for it. It could be coming through where you are!

    diogenes, all sporting events are plastered with advertising these days. I don't even notice it anymore. Just patterns and colors.

    craig, Cordes-en-ciel was particularly neat!

    writer, right!

    ginny, funny how certain sounds get stored in our brains as memories that we never forget.

    stephen, that must be something to see. I'm having a hard time imagining riding on a bike seat naked, though.

    victor, that's one of the main reasons I watch!


Pour your heart out! I'm listening.