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Tips for watching 2010 Tour? (espec. Revel -> Ax-3)

Hi all,

Finally it looks like I'll get a chance to watch the Tour live. We're heading down to the Perpignan area in July, including my cycling-mad 12 year old and my wife and daugther (who are only marginally interested), and plan to take a day or two out to watch the race.

We're thinking the nearest and obvious stage to go for is Revel > Ax-3, but we're complete greenhorns when it comes to watching major races like this, so if anyone has any tips it would be a great help! Eg will it be necessary to head up a day (two days?) before and camp on the mountain, or can we expect to get through and get a decent spot if we go up very early the same morning (this not being a classic stage after all)?

If we have to settle for a flatter but more accessible part of the stage, do we just take the car and park anywhere alsong the route or will that also require going out really early? I'm also thinking that in terms of taking photos and getting autographs from the riders for my son, the best bet is probably to home in on a depature town rather than an arrival town, right?

Sorry about all the questions - we usually ride races ourselves rather than watch them!

Best to watch in the mountains and you should be okay to get up very early.  Take your walking legs if necessary .... you could easily walk a fair way up even if they close the roads to cars and bikes.
last km

The mountains gets my vote too. Get there early, soak up the atmosphere, combine it with a b-b-q and a few beers. The stage details and ETA are in Le Equipe on the day of the race, but better to do your research and plan your departure as well, as the traffic jams after the race has passed through can be horrendous , especially in the mountain stages.

I gave up trying to get near the riders, at every TDF stage start I've been too its all been barriered (sp?) off, I find it easier after a finish, especially if you can find team buses or hotel.

Am only saying this from personal experience

The best races for getting near the riders for me are:-

Het Volk

Paris-Nice (in Nice)

Many thanks Bartali and LKM for this. I'm relieved to hear we can make it up on the same day (early morning).

May not bring a BBQ, but the beer sounds like a good idea (oh wait, that means slower riding next time we're on a bike ourselves, what a dilemma!)
Mrs John Murphy

Although this might seem a stupid question have you been to other races with the family before - ie where you have had to spend a lot of time hanging around waiting for something to happen?

Beauty about the TdF in the mountains is that you have the Tour caravan ... and usually good weather.  Makes it a bit more fun for the 'family'.  I certainly wouldn't want to take non-cycling fans to somme (sic) cold and wet 'cyclo-cross' race like PR.
last km

mjm & bart have a point...seen all the spring classics...some of which are not family fare...the TDF is good in the mountains.....the start and finish are not so family friendly...the giro is a bit more accesible as is the Vuelta...probably my favourites have been the Worlds...oh and in Britain the Manchester Velodrome for a Worlds or World Cup is good for families as well..very slick presentations..revolution series is good

Spectators on the mountain stages of the Giro usually turn up in the morning with food and wine etc and wait several hours for the riders to go past.
Mrs John Murphy

How old is your daughter and what is her likely attitude going to be to standing around for hours waiting for something to happen?

I wonder if it might be better to perhaps look for one of the mountains that occurs earlier in the stage, you are perhaps more likely to get a good position.

Also, do you have plans for what to do if it is freezing cold and wet?

MJM, you raise a good point.

My son and I are used to standing around for ages in all sorts of weather when we wait for each other at races, but my wife has back problems and my daughter is a teenager with a certain leaning towards the "instant gratification" state of mind at the moment Rolling Eyes  Smile  Smile

I had this dream that some of you mention about waiting with wine and a hamper on a bright day in the mountains until the caravan and peloton arrived, but maybe I need to get real about that one  Shocked.  

I'm reluctant to make it more than a single day trip, so driving very far to see other stages is not ideal. If it pours certainly we will just go the two of us.

nzovu wrote:
I'm relieved to hear we can make it up on the same day (early morning).

Just to say you can't be completely sure of this if you're planning to go up in a car.... (although as this isn't one of the classic mountains you should be OK) - essentially what happens is that the police determine when the mountain is "full", which depends how much room there is for parking cars off road...  a couple of years ago I failed to get within 5 miles of the foot of the Galibier 36 hours before the race....  and you need to work out how near the summit you want to get, as obviously the spaces up there get filled up quickly  (there were motor homes at the top of the Ventoux a full week before last years stage) - be prepared to suspend your usual approach to parking, as it's acceptable to wedge your car in anywhere you can (as long as it's off the road)

Having said that, do whatever it takes to get up there....  it's worth it!

Thanks for that ventoux, both for the caution and reminding me its worth the effort!

And thanks to everyone else who replied too, I feel a lot wiser on this now (he thought!)  Smile
Mrs John Murphy

I would suggest that you maybe have a plan A and a plan B. If the weather forecast is good then plan for a day on a mountainside, if the weather forecast is bad then pick somewhere early in the race where you can go, see the race go by, and then be out of there.

There was a thread on the 3 GT's about going to watch the Tour on Mount Ventoux - don't know how to link the original post, but this is the shortcut that I copied - it's on about Page 3 of the 3 GT's thread - hope the advice helps

Plan A and B makes a lot of sense, will do (although it is of course quite unthinkable that it will be raining, yeah right).

Thanks for the link MJM, I'll see what I can dig up.
last km

There was a thread on the 3 GT's about going to watch the Tour on Mount Ventoux - don't know how to link the original post, but this is the shortcut that I copied - it's on about Page 3 of the 3 GT's thread - hope the advice helps

See my post over on the 3 GTs thread

Just a quick word of thanks to all for the good advice, and a few photos below.

We ended up on Port de Pailheres (stage 14 HC climb) - on the narrow hairpins just below the summit (aimed for Ax3 but couldn't make it for practical reasons). Made a picnic of it and enjoyed the full show. Next year we'll bring our bikes though, they were sorely missed!

Ah, le Tour!

Riblon pulling away from Van de Walle and Moinard - victory ahead!

Remembering the good times. Andy in yellow as son is star-struck Smile

Carlito trying to make it - no dice this year, sadly.

Here comes the Grupetto - makes for much easier photography  Wink

And this is the guy they keep predicting could be turned into a climber?  Very Happy


Watching the finale on some poor camper's TV!

Looks like a grand day out. Thanks for sharing. Photo of Hushovd is classy  Smile

thanks for the pics nzovu Cool it does look fun Smile

chapeau! and merci
Mrs John Murphy

How did wife and daughter find the day?

They really enjoyed it.

Daughter loved the caravan. That's not usually to my taste, but I must admit the TdF one is entertaining. Couldn't help smiling at these two:

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