This year’s Tour de France was one of the most enduring in recent years, with the Corsican sun, narrowing roads and crosswinds making the first week a nervy one for all in the main bunch before the grueling mountain stages. The heat was relentless for the whole three weeks and Team Sky’s Chris Froome proved too hot to handle; tearing the field apart on the mountain-top finish at Ax 3 Domaines to take the yellow jersey, and further increasing his lead on Mont Ventoux.
A consecutive Tour victory for Team Sky proved their depth and dominance, with riders such as Richie Porte coming to the forefront and promising youngster Peter Kennaugh making an impressive debut. Needless to say that it was not such a successful Tour for BMC Racing Team, with Cadel struggling to find the form he showed in 2011 and last year’s ‘Best Young Rider’ Tejay van Garderen was also off the pace after a great start to the year in California.
We were lucky enough to be invited out to the final stage in Paris by BMC along with some of their other international dealers and friends. Swayed by the amazing weather we thought it would be a great opportunity to ride out (or at least part of the way) so we left on Friday morning from Newhaven to Dieppe. Joel rode from London down to Newhaven but unfortunately the boat was full for cyclists (there was a lot onboard) so I was forced to take the car. We met at the port, loaded his bike in and boarded the boat. Once into Dieppe it was back out with Joel’s bike whilst I drove to Gournay-en-Bray where we met up a few hours later to rest our heads.
The next morning we both set off for the final 100km into Paris – Joel on his shiny new BMC Teammachine SLR01 Dura Ace (ride review to come) whilst I was riding a BMC GF01 Ultegra Di2. We passed a few groups of fellow Brits en-route to Paris, riding through Gisors and Pontoise, navigating our way into Paris without too much dual carriageway action. Riding in alongside the Bois de Boulogne park to the Arc de Triomphe and down across the river to the Eiffel Tower for a quick photo before finding our hotel.
We checked in, collected our free BMC stash and went to find some local cuisine in the form of M&S before watching the day’s stage on TV. Joel was eager to compare his previous week’s performance at the l’Etape du Tour which covered the same route – unfortunately Quintana beat his time. We then all went for dinner at the impressive ‘Le Train Bleu’ restaurant in the heart of the Gare de Lyon looking down over the platforms. BMC’s owner Andy Rihs welcomed over 100 guests; talking about his love of cycling, passion for the Tour and team.
Sunday morning we took a stroll around the Luxembourg Gardens where there was a photo exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Tour de France and grabbed a coffee – bumping into a few guys we passed on the bikes the day before. Sunday’s stage was scheduled for a later arrival than usual to commemorate the 100th edition so BMC laid on a river cruise in the afternoon; taking in the sites of the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, and the smaller replica of the Statue of Liberty which stands near the Grenelle Bridge on the Île aux Cygnes, facing west toward her larger sister.
At 6pm we all met in the hotel lobby and headed en masse to our hospitality area on the Champs Elysees for dinner before the riders began their 8 laps. The atmosphere and intensity of the racing was incredible as they flew past within arm’s reach, jockeying for position whilst brave breakaways tried their luck only to be swallowed by the bunch in the final lap – leaving the sprinters to do their thing. We were on the edge of our seats as Cav and Kittel approached but the big German proved too strong, holding off Cav and his fellow countryman Andre Greipel to take the stage whilst Froome rolled in with the bunch to celebrate his victory.
The presentations included an impressive light projection display on the Arc de Triomphe and Joel showed his photography skills whilst snapping a few riders as they passed on their way back from the podium.
Guess who – Joel’s dodgy photography skills (or lack of), he blames the camera.
Andy then rounded all of his guests up and we were off to the BMC Team party at a club they had hired off of the Champs Elysees. The team riders were all introduced and mingled for the course of the evening before we decided to hit the sack and get some rest ahead of Monday’s ride back to Gournay-en-Bray to pick up the car, and on to Dieppe. Not a great Tour for BMC but definitely a successful one for cycling, that we will enjoy and remember. Massive thank you to everyone at BMC – what a weekend, and the bikes aren’t bad either! Check out their full range of road bikes >>