Le Tour De France, up close and personal
I had the opportunity to watch the final stage of Le Tour de France in July, 2002, on the Champs Elysees. The fun started early in the day, long before the riders had actually started the final stage. The weather was great -- sunny, clear skies, temperatures in the low 80s. We enjoyed walking the length of the Champs Elysees, watching the crowds gather, and enjoying the festivities. There were bands playing, a dance group performing, lots of new/fancy cars being driven (sponsors cars, I imagine), and several large Jumbo-Tron screens setup which were broadcasting the race "live" from the race course. It looked like the riders were all enjoying themselves immensely.
As is customary in the Tour de France, the team with the yellow jersey led the way into Paris -- in this case US Postal led the way with Lance Armstrong firmly in control of the yellow jersey. When they reached the underpass at the Louvre, the final sprint to the finish began. The final sprint is 8 laps around the Champs Elysees, racing from the Louvre up to the Arc de Triomphe and turning back towards the Louvre. It was pretty clear that Lance and the rest of the team were in no hurry to join the wild sprint and they dropped back near the back of the peloton. As they raced by my spot, about 50 feet from the finish line, it was a blur. My photos were pretty terrible, so there is not much to post here.
This year I'm following the tour over the Internet using the live tracker found here: