It was thrilling! We walked a couple of kilometers towards the end of Stage 14 near the Stade de Gerland (soccer stadium). We were only 1.5 hours before the expected arrival of cyclists. We spent the morning seeing historic Lyon and watched the middle of the race on television. The race route in Lyon was a challenge with one section that looked like Lombard Street in San Francisco, and several hard turns into the last kilometer. When we left the tv we knew there was a breakaway (a group of riders that rides away from the Peleton or the main group of riders), but we did not know if they would be caught. In anticipation of a possible sprint, we picked a spot at the 1 kilometer marker where sprints often get serious and began our vigil. We missed a lot of the parade and the announcers spoke in French, of course. Our neighbor at the barrier spoke a little English and translated. Then we learned he was from Bulgaria and spoke only a little French as well. Still better than our 3 word vocabulary.
Our Bulgarian friend said that the announcer was mainly telling us to keep our arms and bags behind the barrier and other safety warnings. Gradually the announcer became more excited and began shouting his announcements with the name “Julien Simon” repeated frequently. The official cars stopped roaring by and we began to only see gendarmes, then photographers, then we could hear the crowd roar let us know that they were seconds away.
The breakaway was still away! The first couple of riders came on our side of the street and periously close to us. Then there were a few stragglers (still going VERY fast) including American Teejay Vandergarderen of BMC. Several minutes passed and then the crowd roar sounded again and we say the police motor bikes and suddenly, boom: the Peleton led by Team Sky and the yellow jersey on Chris Froome. Wow. (Pictured above)
I did not learn the actual winner until we got back to the hotel. Matteo Trentin of Omega Pharma-Quickstep (Mark Cavendish’s team) won the stage. Julien Simon was close and said in an interview that if there had been a few more turns in the course it might have been a different result. Meanwhile all of the other standings remained the same.
If you are not familiar with the classifications: Overall leader of the Tour with the lowest time wears the Yellow jersey and is currently Chris Froome with a 2’35” lead; the sprinters compete for the green jersey and because there are points along the route and not just for top finishing, Peter Sagan is in green; the King of the Mountains wears red polkadots on a white jersey and Pierre Rolland is KofM; the best young rider must be under 23 and wears white (the current best young rider has a very long name that I cannot remember). You can get all The Tour scoop at the Tour de France website.