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Tour de Pez: Le Départ!
TDF Roadside St.6: The past two days of covering Le Tour have been exhausting. Extremely fun, but tiring. It has been very hot here in the south of France, and I carry a lot of equipment to do the job properly. Today I tried to keep it simple by only covering the start of the race in Aix-En-Provence. I've heard it was a beautiful city, but sadly I didn't get a chance to see any of it. I arrived early at the start line, and asked several Tour staff where the team buses were located. Three people told me 3 different areas, and it wasn’t until I asked another photographer that I realized that we were way too early.

Joyeux De Cocotier a musician from Guadeloupe

The first thing I did was check out the Tour Village where snacks were provided to media, VIP's and guests, hoping to run into a cycling celebrity. Just outside of the entrance to the village was Joyeux De Cocotier a reggae/blues/ rock musician from Guadeloupe who is a guest of the Europcar team. I asked him if I could make a portrait of him for my portrait a day project, and he was very happy to do so, and gave me a CD titled “Blues & Peace”. He's at the Tour supporting the Europcar guys and in particular yesterday's hero from the breakaway, Kevin Reza who's originally from Guadeloupe.

The welcome to the Tour Village

On my way in to the villiage, a 15 year old local boy named Lucas Leprince asked me if I would sell him my media pass. I told him I couldn't, but inquired how much he would be willing to pay. He told me 100 Euros. Not enough. It was nice to sit in the shade for a few minutes in the Tour Village and just relax. It was mostly promotional products and samples being handed out of the usual breads, cookies, etc, but it was also cool to see retired French cycling star Richard Virenque signing autographs.

A former French housewife.

Former darling of the French housewives and retired cycling star Richard Virenque

Crowds start to form around the departure area

2605KM to Paris

Around 11:45AM cyclists started to descend the steps of their tour buses, and check over their bikes before heading over to the podium for the sign in. There was a large contingency of Aussie fans outside of the Orica GreenEdge bus trying to get a glimpse of Tour leader Simon Gerrans.


I had a chance to talk with Gerrans last year at the Tour Down Under when he was wearing the Ochre Jersey, and he is a really nice guy who is very deserving of his success. He was all smiles this morning, as he waved, and high fived many of the team cars on the way to the sign in. At the day's start it looked like Gerrans was likely to stay in yellow until the race heads to the the Pyrenees but you never know what lies ahead on the Tour as at the end of the day it was Gerran's teammate Impey in the lead!

Two wins for Orica GreenEdge thus far.

It will be interesting to see how Impey will do with yellow on his back when the serious climbing begins. I also had a chance to catch Peter Sagan as he was giving his bike a final check, and tried to ask him a few questions. He told me he didn't understand my english, and he had to get to the sign in, so it wasn't exactly a successful interview.

Aussie Fans await the Orica GreenEdge team bus.

Simon Gerrans gets ready for today's stage outside of the team bus, and signs in at the podium.


Peter Sagan gives his bike one final check prior to the start of stage 6.


At this point almost all of the riders had made their way to the start line, and I followed suit. There were a few cyclists that sat behind the stairs to the podium to keep cool right until the last minute though. It was a scorcher, and I was feeling the heat after a couple of hours of walking around. I can't imaging 4 or 5 hours in the sun at a race pace. I managed to get myself in the middle of the group, and was situated between tour contenders Chris Froome who is wearing #1, and Alberto Contador. I haven’t raced in years, but it was nice to be back in a peloton regardless of the fact I was without a bicycle.

Staying cool just moments away from the start.


Chris Froome at the start line

In the peloton!


And they are off!

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow - .


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