I knew today's stage would be difficult. Nothing jumped out as a 'must shoot' location when we looked at the road book. Also, a sprint finish was almost guaranteed, so all the planning needed to be based around arriving at the finish well ahead of the riders.
With that in mind we didn't spend much time at the start and instead hit the race route, heading for the first spot we circled on the map. There was a nice view out over the hills, so I stopped to check it out. However, the angles just didn't work so we moved on.
The second location we circled was an old chateau with a view - but we never made it. Instead, we stopped as we went through Exmes, a small town with a cute main street and some nice angles. The last two stages have taught me that one shot in the bag is worth two in the bush (ie. take the shot in front of you). So Exmes is was.
As we waited for the riders an official car pulled up, the door opened, and out stepped Bernard Hinault (cycling royalty and 5-time Tour de France winner). The town folk crowded around and offered him a freshly baked madeleine. He took a bite and offered a grateful 'très bon' before his minders bundled him back into the car and off they went.
We had one more stop planned before setting our sights on the finish; the feed zone which also marked the half-way point of the race.
Upon closer inspection of the map we wouldn’t actually make the feed stop because of the way the roads were connected. We would have to find another spot just before the turn off.
We got to the turn off and found it crowded with people. We edged towards them, hoping they would part and let us off the course – but they wouldn’t budge.
Plan B was to pull over as close to the turn off as possible and, hopefully, there would be another way through. As luck would have it, here was a tiny single-lane farm road nearby. It was so small you had apply maximum zoom on Google to see it.
The riders came past and I found a spot next to a couple of Australians with a semi-deflated inflatable kangaroo.
The road out was so narrow cars were parked along the side in the ditch, leaving us to squeeze past to get back on the main road.
Our daily race to beat the riders to the finish was on, and it seemed like every truck and camper van in the vicinity was out to make us lose.
We made it (not without some anxious moments) and got a good position the see Mark Cavendish take his first Tour stage win in almost 2 years.
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.