Stage 8: Dreux > Amiens Métropole
Stage 8: Dreux > Amiens Métropole
Saturday, 14th July 2018
Saturday, 14th July 2018

Parking in the pike position

Today, we hit the wall. No doubt about it, stage 8 was the hardest day of our Tour de France chasing mission so far. After a flat stage yesterday, I was hardly jumping with joy about doing another. But I was a man on a mission - the unfortunate events of Friday 13 had made for a lean day behind the lens, and I had an ambitious plan of shooting 5 spots to make up for it.

Don Álvaro’s parking has become more and more creative as the Tour goes on. I’d give today’s spot at the start in Dreux a 4 out of 5, as it included both a 45 degree angle, and a mounting of the curb, with one of the ŠKODA’s wheels teetering precariously on the edge.

As for Dreux itself, apparently it is Europe’s leading pharmaceutical production area, accounting for 53% of France’s drug production. Bold choice by the ASO/UCI - and I’ll leave it there.

I managed to capture some nice portraits of Romain Bardet (as well as some Bora monkey business with a banana), meaning we could call our visit to the start a success and still get a head start on finding our first spot.

Monkey magic

Continuing the primate theme... The Château d'Anet is an incredible building, commissioned in the 16th century in the Renaissance style by Henri II for his favourite, Diane de Poitiers. The only problem was that all the other photographers seemed to have beat us there.

Not wanting to give up this amazing location without a fight, I did my best to find another angle. A bus shelter across the road looked like it might do the trick. I waited until the nearby Gendarme’s back was turned, then scrambled up as nimbly as a spider monkey.

Unfortunately, the Gendarme spotted me shortly after and told me sternly to come down. He spoke English, so I tilted my beard to its most charming angle, and attempted to negotiate. Either my bearded charm worked a treat or he was feeling lazy because after sincerely promising not to break the roof or fall on the children below, I was allowed to stay.

We had parked outside the race course today in the hope of a quick escape. It seemed to work and we were on our way to our second spot without delay – so far, so good.

The day goes downhill

Unfortunately, the next location wasn’t really worth the effort, so we switched gears to location three. However, with a huge gap between the breakaway and the main bunch, staying ahead (whilst still shooting the peloton) was going to be a problem. I think the peloton was treating this stage as another rest day before the tough stuff on tomorrow’s Roubaix cobbles.

Sure enough, things started to go downhill from there. We arrived at the next crossing point of the course just after the break, meaning we couldn’t make it through. Some creative improvisation got us there in the end, but then the same thing happened at the next location.

We drove around in circles trying every possible side street, but the officials had been too thorough for us this time – every entry point to the course was blocked with concrete, beyond even Alvaro’s curb mounting abilities.

It felt like one of those surreal dreams where you’re trapped in a repeating loop of the same scenery, searching endlessly for something (in this case, an escape) but never quite finding it.

What seemed like years later and miles away, we made it back onto the race course just in time to exit again to take the highway to the finish.

Taking a toll

At this point, our tally for the day was sitting at one decent location, one average location, and two total failures. And after all this messing around, making the finish was looking pretty tight too. Alvaro had developed a slight twitch, and I was starting to feel we could do with some pharmaceuticals ourselves…

An unscheduled stop at the toll gates almost cost us 7 euro, the finish, and our sanity. We sat in grim silence while the elderly couple ahead of us dropped all their coins on the ground, and couldn’t open up their car door to retrieve them in the narrow lane.

As we screeched into the last checkpoint in world heritage Amiens, the official told us we’d just made the cut off by 1 minute, and to please arrive earlier in future. My knees were wobbly with relief and hunger – today had not been conducive to regular meals - as I made my way to the finish.

The bunch sprint was a free for all, with As we screeched into the last checkpoint in world heritage Groenewegen taking the win (with a lot less cryptic victory salute this time), and Greipel and Gavira second and third on the line before eventually being disqualified by the judges. I was in the thick of the media scrum when Groenewegen’s girlfriend came running up to embrace him.

Thank goodness today is over. Now, bring on le cobbles!
Stage 8: Dreux > Amiens Métropole
Teams Presentation
Stage 1: Noirmoutier-en-l'Île > Fontenay-le-Comte
Stage 2: Mouilleron-Saint-Germain > La Roche-sur-Yon
Stage 3, Team Time Trial: Cholet > Cholet
Stage 4: La Baule > Sarzeau
Stage 5: Lorient > Quimper


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Join Beardy McBeard and his caravan as he chases some of cycling’s biggest races around the world. Get a new perspective on this beautiful sport through Beardy's iconic photos and the stories behind them. You can also purchase the prints!

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