On the road – Tour de France 2017

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Tour de France

On the road – Tour de France 2017

The Tour de France is the cycling world’s premier, most sought after race. The purpose of Tour de France was simple, to make men supermen. The longer the course, the harder the race, the more public interest it would generate. The greater the public interest, the greater sensation it would be for the press. That was the thought behind L’Auto newspaper kick starting the world’s most famous bicycle race in 1903.

Today, the Tour de France is just as sought after by spectators as much as by aspiring cyclists. Although you need to be invited to participate in the Tour de France, you don’t need an invitation to watch the race.

Come July, the epic race will kick off in Dusseldorf on 01st July with a 14 kilometer trial run, going on to cover 21 stages spanning a total distance of 3,540 kilometers. The 2017 Tour de France will include a total of 23 mountain climbs or hills and altitude finishes. Here’s how the stages have been divided.

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9 flat stages
5 hilly stages
5 mountain stages including altitude finishes
2 individual time trial stages
2 rest days

The race will come to a close on Sunday, 23rd July at the Paris Champs Elysees after a spectacular scenic course through France.

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The tour takes over towns en-route which will be consumed by carnivals, day-long picnics and the publicity caravan, a veritable 20 kilometer train of fancy floats advertising commercial products, handing out sweets, samples and souvenirs. If you speak a little French, you can befriend locals, enjoy some rural (and urban) French hospitality and get to watch the cyclists whoosh past you.

Here’s how you can keep up with the race and enjoy your very own Tour de France carnival.

Rent a car – Public transport will not take you through the mountain stages and unless you plan to cycle your way along the route, you’re going to need a vehicle that can keep up with the professional racers.

Warning: Some of the mountain stages might not allow your vehicle to pass so it is important that you park your vehicle someplace else. The challenge is these disclosures aren’t always in advance, some of them are arbitrarily issued when the parking lots run full. Nonetheless, keep a plan B in mind.

Look out for the caravan – An hour before the riders come in, the caravan will waltz through the track, dishing out goodies that can include can include candy, cheese, keychains, hats, and other random souvenir junk. If you’re in a big town, there could be some aggression over who gets the goodies but the small towns don’t have that challenge.

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Look out for helicopters – Keeping an eye in the sky would be useful since there will be TV camera wielding helicopters hovering over the race and following the circuit through the countryside.

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Find a local bar and tune into the TV – Reach a village or town on the Tour de France route, hit the local tavern and tune into the TV with a refreshing beverage and some snacks. Most people tend to choose this option.

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If you intend to photograph the race, it would do you good to practice clicking fast moving vehicles. The cyclists will whoosh past you in less than a minute.

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