Stage 2: Saint-Lo – Cherbourg-Octeville
Stage 2: Saint-Lo – Cherbourg-Octeville
Sunday, 3rd July 2016
Sunday, 3rd July 2016

While we had amazing luck with the weather on day 1, today, we were back to good ol’ Norman weather - rainy with a chance of showers, or showers with a chance of rain. The riders didn’t seem to be too happy either, with the prospect of riding the next 5 hours in the rain, or getting their faces washed by tyre-spray.

After looking at roadmaps for hours I could be forgiven for confusing them with Froomie’s legs; seemingly endless veins and arteries of roads, criss-crossing Normandy. Some of these roads are perhaps more suited to the Paris-Dakar rally, than Le Tour. One minute we were driving along the course, the next minute Speedy was doing his best Colin McCrae impression and blasting our little Captur down sandy and muddy ruts.

We eventually reached our hero-shot location, the tiny seaside town of Portbail. I had done my research and knew that this was going to be the best location for today. This place had everything: old buildings, a small bridge and a mural of an old bearded fisherman - complete with pipe. The only problem was that my position was compromised and the Jean-Claude-Van-Damerie moved me further down the road. I was now precariously perched on a 45 degree stone embankment, littered with the slipperiest succulents known to man. My childhood gymnastics lessons paid off and I got the shot.

On our way to the finish, Speedy exclaimed “I don’t feel like I can get more french than this!” He was racing us along the narrow, winding back-roads in a French car, a baguette in one hand, a coffee on offer in my hand, and all while swearing in French and baguette crumbs coating the windscreen. We decided that this could only be topped by a pack of Gauloise and “deux berets” each for a truly French experience.

Arriving at the finish line, we were faced with packed out barriers and a photographer’s gallery which made tinned sardines look free-range. We had to find another place to shoot so we walked, and walked, and walked to no avail. All seemed lost as we heard the remaining kilometres being whittled down by the riders. After spotting two photographers on the track side of the barriers, I knew that there was a way to get a good shot. Seeing a small guarded opening, I tried my luck using my simple French/English hybrid: “presse, oui, go through?” Satisfied with my lanyard and vest, they let us through. There was comment on my French, or lack thereof.

The race went past me and I got my shots, however my job wasn’t done. The podium presentation music could be heard and we were still one kilometre down the climb. There was no choice but to run with several kilos of camera gear on me, up the steepest hill of the tour so far.

See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.
Stage 21: Chantilly - Paris Champs Élysées
Stage 17: Berne - Finhaut-Emosson


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