After 9 busy days chasing the Tour, there was plenty to organise on our ‘day off’
First and foremost was the 700km drive that had us pulling into Pau around 5pm.
Then there was the washing to do.
With our clothes happily spinning at the laundromat, we had exactly 36 minutes to find some dinner – but all we seemed to be able to find were questionable kebab shops.
Then we stumbled across a pizza place. After a quick online check of reviews confirmed it was ok, we placed our orders.
It felt like we were on a police stake-out as we sat in the car across from the laundromat eating pizza and waiting for the dryer.
Two riders came rolling down the street without helmets, chatting away. One of them had an American accent and, as I looked up, I recognised his face – it was Greg LeMond.
It was the first day heading into the mountains, so getting amongst the action was our priority. The start in Tarbes was our first port of call before heading express to the finish.
There was the usual crowd of spectators at the start. The riders seemed in good spirits after the rest day and were happy to sign autographs.
As each of the French riders went to sign on, the crowd gave a great cheer hoping today they would see a homegrown hero win on Bastille Day – for the first time in 10 years.
Driving towards the climb of La-Pierre-Saint-Martin, well ahead of the riders, the roadside was already becoming busy with spectators setting up camp.
We parked in the carpark at the top and walked back down to a section of the course that had a cliff of grey rock and some great vantage points. The rocks were crawling with people here, jostling for a view of the riders.
As I perched precariously on the cliff, a few loose stones tumbled down just missing some spectators below. Then a girl sat directly below me and I warned her of the potential danger of a mini avalanche.
The build up to the riders coming into sight was riveting. We could hear the commentary and, every time a French rider lost contact with the leaders, a yell of despair came from the fans.
The helicopter was hovering in the valley giving away the position of the riders.
Then the sound of hands banging on the barriers announced the maillot jaune coming into view. Chris Froome is out of sight and over the finish line before another rider is even visible. A triumphant victory.
On the way back to the car a flock of sheep was heading down the mountain. The shepherd is wearing a green Skoda hat from the caravan.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.