The roads, fields and forests of France that are today the perfect picnic spot to set up camp and awaiting passage of the world's greatest cycling race, were once fields of fire where killing the enemy was the only thing that mattered.
On the 100 year anniversary of World War I, the 2014 Tour de France paid its respects by visiting many of the historic regions and battlefields of the war. For me, chasing the race through regions where so many people had died was unlike anything I'd expected.
Roadside: The Tour has been over for a week and as the dust settles in Paris our man Ed Hood is back home to ‘normality’ with his French memories. From Carcassonne to Paris, through the Pyrenees and up to the ‘La Ville-Lumière’; here are Ed’s twenty-one top favourites from this year’s French adventure.
I knew it was a good Tour when only a couple days in I'd already lost track of the days, and by the end of the week I actually couldn't remember what I'd done just three days earlier. It was my first Tour in 11 years, and this was our final day on the race - destination Briancon, via the Col du Lautaret.
Roadside St.21: Ed Hood’s 2014 Tour de France adventure comes to an end and as he makes his way into the centre of Paris, Ed gives us his thoughts on the riders and everything Tour. As always on the last stage there is time to take in all the sights and reflect on another Tour down.
Jul 28, 2014 - The Tour de France is over for another year and we have all the finalé action in EuroTrash with video, results and rider comments. In other cycling news: La Course, GP Industria, Tour de Wallonie, Clássica de Oerizia, plus news from Cav, Sagan, Orica, BMC and Sky. It’s a busy Monday!
Race Report: In a race that’s been all about attacking, and attacking again it came down to a sprint finish in Paris. It almost didn’t though as Team Sky attempted to recover from their misfortunes but nothing was going to deny the big German and arguably best sprinter around, Marcel Kittel. From start to finish, he’s shown he’s the man to watch in the dash for the line.
Stage 21 to Champs-Élysées is, for many of the riders in the peloton, a contrast to the hardships they’ve went through during Tour de France.
Roadside St.20: The 2014 Tour de France's only time trial was a long 54km last chance for riders hoping to climb or defend the gc positions. But getting there is half the fun, so PEZ spent the morning down in Bergerac checking out the latest tt rigs before heading onto the parcours.
Tom Dumoulin (NED) has this season proved that he is worthy of being classed as one of the best time trialists in the world, and to help him in his pursuit of perfection Team Giant-Shimano, in cooperation with Giant have designed a new time trial suit for Dumoulin which will be used on the stage 20 TT of the Tour de France.
Roadside: Vincenzo Nibali showed his class today and won his fourth stage on the Hautacam after passing our man in France; Ed Hood on the Tourmalet. Let’s see what he got up to on the mythical Pyrenean climb, the last mountain of this year’s Tour de France.
Race Report: On a day when Vincenzo Nibali could have sat back and watched the others fight it out for the podium places, the ‘Shark of Messina’ rode away from everyone with 10 kilometres of the Hautacam still to climb. Behind the French jumped Valverde to push him off the podium.
Jul 24, 2014 - The 2014 Tour de France is entering its finalé and it looks like Vincenzo Nibali will take the win. But it’s been a great Tour with the emergence of the French riders and even more so; Rafal Majka. Tour results, comments and video and lots of other cycling news in a packed EuroTrash Thursday.
Roadside: What a better way to see the Tour de France than in the Pyrenean mountains with L'Equipe open in front of you and in a tent with a TV and a drink in your hand. Ed Hood knows how to see the Tour and have a good time. Day three...
Race Report: Today was designed to be raced hard … from the flag. We had escapes and counter attacks, an ever-changing picture. The one constant was the polka-dot vision Rafal Majka, always in the action and ultimately grabbing the glory for a second stage win at this 2014 Tour.
Roadside Interview: Ed Hood’s first hectic day on this year’s Tour de France was meant to be a rest day, but not for Ed. After the mussel party with OPQS, there were rider interviews to get. First up was PEZ favourite; Michael Morkov of Tinkoff-Saxo.
Roadside: Our PEZ man in France, Ed Hood, has been immersing himself in the Tour, as he does every year. And as always that elusive accreditation has given him problems. In the end all was sorted and he headed off to the mountains. Day 2 of Ed’s Tour ‘14 adventure.
Race Report: Michael Rogers forced his way into the winning group and took it to the line. If that wasn’t exciting enough, the action behind saw the battle between the French riders take another step up with Bardet losing out, not only Pinot but also Peraud. Another day of action in France.
Now that’s what you call a successful debut! Having just joined the Tour de France publicity caravan, McCain and its French fries have already made their mark.
It’s the last day of rest at the Tour de France, before the final, decisive week that will decide who will follow Chris Froome into the league of champions for the most important cycling stage race in the world.