Stage 3 found us reluctant to leave our cozy Airbnb in Saint-Lo, having already settled into the rather comfortable furniture. However, it was time to leave Normandy and head southwest to the Loire Valley.
The third stage of Le Tour started in Granville, also known as the ‘Monaco of the North’ - only because of the fact it boasts a casino and is near the water. As with every other day of the Caravan thus far, we drove into town with our windows down and blasting Nostalgie - perhaps the greatest radio station in France.
Our first spot was Villedieu-les-Poêles, which turned out to be almost too good to be true. After crawling along, trying to find a park (before we missed any chance of a shot), we found one right next to the church in the middle of town. Next to that was a Carrefour Express - with ready-to-eat baguettes in the front fridge.
Regardless of how much research you’ve done on a location, you never quite know how to shoot it until your feet are on the ground, the clock is ticking and the adrenalin is pumping through your veins. With a baguette half hanging out of my mouth, and camera in hand, Villedieu-les-Poêles didn’t disappoint.
Since today’s stage was an epic 222kms long, we knew we had the time to get at least one more shot in before the finish. The problem was I didn’t know exactly where that would be! Fortunately, an opportunity presented itself as we crested a hill and spotted the road snaking its way up the other side. A nice break from the small, stone-covered buildings and old churches of the towns - this place had gradient, windmills and a huge field of wheat to compliment the colour of the peloton. Speedy lived up to his name, so we had plenty of time for a fresh-ish coffee from the thermos and a quick expedition through the wheat field - looking for that elusive angle.
Upon reaching the finish at Angers, we were directed out onto the final kilometres of the barrier-lined course. As we drove along, we saw wall-to-wall faces - it was going to be another tight squeeze in order to get the shot. I dashed straight to the photographer gallery and muscled my way to the top step - my beard and height may have helped convince the others to shift over. As the riders crossed the line, Greipel and Cavendish both celebrated the victory and I couldn’t blame them - it was almost impossible to tell who had crossed the line first.