We can see the finish line now, literally and figuratively. After the little bike tour, we jumped on the Metro and rode down to the Place de la Concorde to watch the women’s race and then a couple hours later see the men come through for the famous circuit race up and down the Champs Elysées. 

The closest metro stop was closed, so an unexpected walk ensued, but then we got past security and voilà!

Maybe it’s stating the obvious, but you don’t often get to stand around here and take pictures… without a trip to the hospital. Our seats allowed us to see the racers coming and going, and with the application of a little chutzpah we were able to get right down by the finish line. Much much better than advertised. 

The women’s race was sort of like watching a college event.  Although they are all pros, only a handful really make full time a living as cyclists… the sponsors just aren’t ponying up. However, also like a college event, the racers were quite approachable, and many of them watched the men’s race from our same bleachers. Marianne Vos, who’s one of the true legends in women’s road cycling, came in third. 

Vlad and I took a walk for a while before the men came through. 

What a difference a block makes… Our passes let us wander inside the secure area, where many thousands of police lounged in cars and paddy wagons, watching YouTube videos, checking Facebook, and praying to stay bored. 

Here’s part of the way you broadcast the event worldwide. 

The race itself unfolded as expected… Greipel the sprinter won over dashing Peter Sagan. 

Sagan had the coolest bike. It sort of glowed from within. 

Here’s another shot of our seats… Really amazing. 

And then the long walk home. Metro out of the question… Crazy crowded. The Place de l’Etoile is seldom empty like this.

Hitting the room around 10 pm, dinner was out of the question. The dedicated autograph hounds were rewarded, but I didn’t have the patience and so headed upstairs. Here’s Rafal Majka, King of the Mountains, signing a jersey. 

And after I passed him my pen with a speed worthy of an Olympic relay team, Vlad cornered Majka in the elevator for a fine signature for his granddaughter. 

Obviously, staying in the same hotel as half the racers had its perks. 

Like any sporting event, it was tremendously exciting, and then it was over. I’m so glad I had the chance to see it, and see it this way. Worth every penny, or more accurately, every several thousand pennies. 

Thank you, my dear one, from the bottom of my heart. 

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