Yesterday definitely undid all of the relaxation of the rest day. The late night followed by early start today left us in the strop-zone this morning. Our Airbnb host, Fred, soon rescued us with endless coffee, fresh bread and tips for the day. As a keen motorcyclist, he was well acquainted with the steep and twisty TT course, giving us some pointers on good areas to shoot.
Since there was no great rush to get to the course, we lurked around the team paddock for a bit and watched the early riders go through their warm ups. Henk Vogels from SBS spotted me and asked me a few questions about the stage. After some quick snaps of riders setting off, we left for steep roads and grimacing faces.
Once again we let our ears direct us where to go on the climb, as the breeze sent cheers and nightclub anthems our way. These sounds were definitely not coming from the reclining grey nomads up the hill so we ventured down. After walking for a couple of minutes, I eventually settled at a point next to some young guys from Belgium, blaring 90s house classics in true Belgian style. They had driven most of last night and arrived in Sallanches around 2am. With the sun bearing down on us, they decided that Speedy and I needed a beer and a chat. Sadly they weren’t drinking doubles or triples since they were travelling light, only having regular tinnies on hand. Despite this, today was looking better already.
As tempting as it was to sit with the Belgians all day, I needed more coverage of the riders and the course, so down the hill we went. In the next 500m, I met Asterisk & Obelisk, a clown, white morph-suit wearing dudes with wee stains on their crotches, mankini wearers and various Sagan impersonators. Eventually I reached the party zone: a small group of Beefeaters (not sure if they were having beef of pork snags) complete with flags and a DJ setup. They were blasting music and getting everyone within earshot riled up and ready to cheer the riders on. Occasionally they’d play a national anthem for a rider as they rode past. Perhaps the best part of the crowd was that they respected the riders and kept their distance as they rode past. Another fan came out of the crowd to say hi. He and his mate came from the area of the last TT, Pont d’Arc.
While the party zone was fun, I made my way back to the Belgians for another beer and a group photo before heading to a quieter and very scenic spot to shoot the favourites. Today was the day we needed to get us through the last couple of stages, especially after just receiving an interesting email about the start tomorrow.