Le Tour de France 2018 – Stage 6 – Brest to Mur de Bretagne
Week 2 – Day 4 – Thursday 12th of July 2018
near Saint Goazec to near Le Moustoir – 28 miles
After our meal last night we walked into the little village of Le Moustoir but there was not a lot to see apart from the obligatory ancient church that most villages and towns seem to have. The village centre car park had about twenty motorhomes parked up and quite a few of the couples had their table and chairs out with some still eating, but most having a glass of wine and chatting.
The one bar in the village was closed, although the hairdresser was still plying her trade at almost eight o’clock. Tomorrow is the biggest day that Le Moustoir will have enjoyed in many a year, but you would hardly believe it as there was no sign of local life. The following map shows where Le Moustoir is in relation to the Stage, probably about three quarters of the way to the finish and we are at the tip of the red arrow..
Next morning a big decision had to me made so the table and chairs came out and a meeting convened. The agenda had only one item to be discussed and that was – where to hang the flags today. Yesterday, as you saw on the picture in the last blog, they were hung on the side of the van, however in hindsight this did not give the cyclists or the cameras much time to see them as they hurtled past at breakneck speed.
Today they would be approaching us along a long (was that not a Bay City Rollers hit, or am I thinking of Shang-a-Lang?) straight flat road, and although cycling fast, not as fast as the downhill section yesterday. It was therefore decided on a radical departure from yesterday’s configuration by placing the Scottish Lion Rampant flag on the inside of the windscreen and hang the ‘Deeerect Energee’ flag on a side of the table outside thus giving all approaching traffic maximum exposure to our small but well formed display augmented today by a Brittany flag given to us by the local tourist board passing in a van.
With that momentous decision made the meeting was concluded and it was time for a cuppa. I took my chair over to the other side of the road as it was in shade, while The Navigator sat in the full glare of the sun, reading. After such a busy morning it was almost lunchtime, and if the sighting of the flags was a radical decision, then lunch also going to break the mould by having a BBQ at lunchtime. The reasoning behind this change to the normal routine is that after today’s Stage passes us we will move on to another location to see Stage 7 and that is at least a three and a half hour drive away, so probably too late to start cooking on arrival. You can see on the following map the fair distance we had to travel between our Stage 6 location and the Stage 7 location.
It was an odd location to be barbecuing, being so close to a main road but by this time the road was closed to normal traffic. In hindsight it was also odd to be firing up the Cadac only a few feet away from the location of one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. Can you imagine trying to do this beside Centre Court at Wimbledon, beside the 18th green at the Open Golf at Carnoustie, or any other great sporting event?
More a brunch than a lunch, the chilli sausages surprisingly went well with the fried eggs, the first time I had cooked eggs on the barbecue. At one point I saw two Gendarmes coming towards me down the road, blue lights flashing but they just cruised by with a wave to me, as if seeing a Scotsman cooking was an everyday occurrence. Its not by the way!
Brunch over, it was time to get ready for the imminent arrival of the Caravan, today, with a new tactic. I was going to stand on the other side of the road while The Navigator would be in position beside Bessie. We were parked beside a quite wide long straight road so the Caravan would be using both lanes and ‘throwing’ the freebies to both sides of the road and we would be ready to capitalise on our new tactic.
And then silence descends on the roadside. We now have at least an hour to wait for the main event so time for a cuppa and a seat. We were watching the race on ITV4 and could view their progress towards us. The TV graphic counts down the kilometres to go and the Tour de France website tells you the distance from the start and the distance to go from the nearest village to you. Once they were within five kilometres it was time to get in position to see the five riders in the breakaway, including two from ‘Deeerect Energeee’.
The breakaway is the chance for some of the lesser teams to gain a Stage win and get their sponsors featured on TV, but it is rare for any of these riders to go on and win the Stage.
When the main Peleton arrived, some two minutes after the breakaway, the cunning plan devised this morning to gain TV exposure for our flags hit a snag and it was too late to correct it. The two main angles the TV coverage uses are helicopter shots as well as from the dozens of motorbikes that swarm around the riders all of the way. As you can see from the following picture the Peleton was being recorded from the front meaning our windscreen display could not be seen! As Rabbie Burns once said…
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,” [often go awry]
There is another camera motorbike at the tail of the Peleton filming forwards, but unless one of the big name riders is struggling and at the rear of the field, you never really see much of this footage.
It only took five minutes to prepare to move off but we had to wait for the road to open for traffic. We needed to service before the next stopover and we found a Super U and managed to empty the toilet but could not take on fresh water as the Bourne was broken. We had enough water to cope so we pressed on. It was a long tiring drive of about three and a half hours, arriving just outside a village about half an hour before the light faded. The second half of the drive was all new to us as we had never been to this part of Normandy before and we drove for miles through a heavily forrested national park, including one section that formed a tourist trail – for pears.
We were lucky once again as the lay-by I had chosen was empty when we arrived, allowing me to park in the prime spot – i.e. the first van the Caravan and race would pass but we were soon joined by one British and two French vans, but more of them in the next Blog.
I took videos of both the caravan and the race itself passing us. This first one shows the parade of sponsor’s vehicles known as the ‘caravan’ which dispenses freebies along the entire route of the Tour de France.
This second video shows the race passing us…
STAGE 6 – TOP 3
Dan Martin – Ireland – UAE Team Emirates
Pierre Roger Latour – France – AG2R La Mondiale
Alejandro Valverde – Spain – Movistar
OVERALL TOP 3 AFTER STAGE 6
Greg Van Avermaet – Belgium – BMC Racing Team
Geraint Thomas – Great Britain – Team Sky
Tejay Van Garderen – United States – BMC Racing Team
We are in position to view Stage 7, the Dreux to Amiens Metropole section and will see more of the riders as we are at the end of a straight following a short uphill climb, so hopefully they will not be going flat out.
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To put this blog post into context here is the route we travelled…
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