Set the video, went off to both church and the church family picnic that followed, coming in just in time for the end of the race. Caught up with all the action later in the evening. What fantastic weather for watching the Tour – such a great party atmosphere. Bradley Wiggins writes in his Guardian blog:
“Even seasoned guys in the team are saying this was one of the best Tour de France Grand Départs they have ever been to, and I’m just satisfied with the ride I did.”
The 203km route for today is shown on the Tour de France site. The riders set off for a gentle half hour ride from Westminster to Tower Bridge, where they met Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who cut the tape to start the race. The main start, where the riders started to jostle for position, seemed to be a few miles further on at Greenwich. We were treated to some great aerial shots of London as the race progressed including St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and Greenwich. The race wound its way along the south bank of the Thames past the Millennium Dome (now called the 02) and the Thames (Flood) Barrier as far as the traffic roundabout at the Woolwich ferry, in a reverse of the route followed by the London Marathon. The riders continued through Plumstead (where I once lived) and Abbey Wood, where they were watched by another blogger, Neil Beynon, who then proceeded to have a go at riding up Bostall Hill himself (rather him than me!) It was a shame that the helicopter did not show any pictures of Lesnes Abbey. Kent aerial shot highlights were Upnor Castle, Rochester Cathedral and Castle, Leeds Castle, the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Sissinghurst (Sissinghurst towers is pictured – one of those places I have never visited but should) and a great steam train on the Kent & East Sussex Railway at Tenterden. Steve at The Cartoon Blog has some good shots of the ‘caravane’ which precedes the race and then the riders going through Kent. The final shots of Canterbury showing the curtain walls as well as the wonderful Cathedral were not to be missed.
There was an exciting finish too. The Australian, Robbie McEwan (Predictor – Lotto), having taken a tumble a few kilometres further back and complaining of a sore wrist, stormed in from nowhere metres before the finish to take the stage. Fabien Cancellara (CSC) will hold the race leader’s yellow jersey for a second day as his cumulative time could not be beaten, but McEwan was rewarded with the green points jersey. It was great to see a Briton, David Millar, on the podium at the end of the Tour’s visit here. Millar (Saunier Duval), a time trial specialist, was amusingly awarded the polka dot ‘King of the Mountains’ jersey having amassed equal points but crossing the finishing line ahead of Stephane Auge (Cofidis) from France. These points came from the very small number of ‘hills’ on this stage, including the wonderfully named ‘Cote de Farthing Common’ not far from the end.
RESULTS (British riders in italics)
STAGE WINNER – Robbie McEwan (Predictor Lotto)
2nd Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) – 3rd Tom Boonen (Quickstep Innergetic)
9th – Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
YELLOW (individual) – Fabien Cancellara (CSC)
3rd David Millar (Saunier Duval)
5th – Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis)
POLKA DOT (climber) David Millar (Saunier Duval)
GREEN (points) – Robbie McEwan (Predictor Lotto)
WHITE (under 25) – Vladimir Gusev (Discovery)
COMBATIVE – Stephane Auge (Cofidis)
LEADING TEAM – Astana
The tour had booked a whole ferry to themselves for the evening crossing to France. Tomorrow they set off north-east through France, crossing the Belgian border after just a few kilometres.