Tour de France – Rotterdam

Just a few months after seeing the Giro d’Italia coming by my apartment comes another much bigger bike race, the Tour de France. As my dad has always been interested in the Tour I am relatively familiar with it and a few of the big name riders, a few of which I saw in Middelburg. There were tour related events happening from the 1-4 of July though the two biggest days were easily the 3rd and the 4th. On the 3rd of July there was the prologue, which was a time trail and on the 4th was the 1st stage.

My dad and I went to watch the time trails which took place on the 3rd. Luckily his office is overlooking the course and we had a very good vantage point and not to mention the perfect place to take shelter from the rain showers which made conditions difficult for both the riders and the audiences.

The rain however proved to be in my advantage as it cleared out many of the people who were waiting by the course.  My dad and i could walk right down to the edge of the course and i could take pictures of the riders from head which delivered some interesting facial expressions.

Due to the rain however we had to come up with a contraption to prevent my camera from getting soaked. In the end we used a plastic shopping bag, cut a whole in the front out of which the front of the lens protruded. The rain helped against the crowds in the begging of the prologue however as time progressed the rain lessened, more prominent bikers came by and the crowds made taking pictures very difficult. Everyone wanted pictures of the riders and would lean right into my frame on multiple occasions. I am not much of a contortionist either so after a while we decided to take a short break and check out the view from up top for the last of the riders.

After having to fight for every picture down on the ground it was very nice to be able to sit in a nice chair, away from the rain and to be able to actually see the riders for more than a quick flash of color. The riders more or less looked identical from above, the only distinguishing features being the jersey’s.

The day after, Sunday, was the day the first stage of the tour de france kicked off. I wasnt sure where i wanted to be, how it would be like or if i could find any space. I ended up taking over an hour walking along the width of a large section of the course and then picking one of the best places I could find which had a surprisingly little number of people. It was a few hundred meters away from the Erasmusbrug pictured below. What I did not count on though was the amount of riders their slow speed and how close they actually came.

Overall it was a very interesting experience. There were thousands of people everywhere despite the rains on the 3rd and it is always interesting to see the places you are very familiar with changing completely.

Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmatsui/sets/72157624300508893/ for the full set of pictures.

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