We left the race at Cap Frehel on Wednesday to take our first group back to fly out of Paris over the weekend. We've been kept busy with all the admin and getting ready for our next group to arrive and I've had little time to get on line to update the blog. We flew into Toulouse this morning to meet our first arrivals and get ready for the race to arrive in the south of France. I'm currently sitting in my hotel room watching Stage 8 to Super Besse and wevre seen an exciting final 20 km with a lone Portuguese rider, Da Costa of Team Movistar, escape from the day's breakaway for a great win. The peloton rode a cracking pace on the final climb up Super Besse to catch Vinoukorov and the other breakaways in the closing stages. Great to see Cadel has been able to preserve his position 1 sec down. A great battle has developed for the sprinter's green jersey, with Gilbert once again taking the prize. Cav is going to have to pull off some solid days on the few remaining flat stages if he is to win this jersey.
To cover the gap in the blog from last Wednesday, I'll include just a few highlights and photos of what we've been up to.
Wednesday 6 July - Stage 5 Carhaix to Cap Frehel.
This was one of our really great days at the Tour as we were heading to the stage finish at Cap Frehel and a chance to get some close ups of the riders as they came back to their buses after the race. Some great photo opportunities and a beautiful finishing straight, above the beach at Cap Frehel. The photos tell the story.
Shots 400 m from the finish as the Caravan rolls through 45 minutes before the riders arrive.a
Some of the celebrities after the finish.
Dave and The Lion King, Mario Cipollini.
Rohan and big George Hincapie, who had done such a great job for Cadel's win on Mur de Bretange the day before.
Mark Renshaw, who was right there in the leadout today for Mark Cavendish's win.
Johan Bruyneel had one of those days he would rather forget. Radio Shack ended up with only 3 riders in the finishing group, after crashes for their key riders; Horner and Leipheimer. Horner has since withdrawn and Leipheimer is now nearly 5 mins off the pace.
Thursday 7 July - Stage 6 Dinan to Lisieux
Today we said goodbye to St Malo, a fantastic location to base yourself for a week of touring around the Brittany and Normandy region. The towns, restaurants, beaches and countryside are worth spending some some exploring. We spent our last day with our tour group riding to the start at Dinan and another chance to get up close and personal with the riders before the race start. I positioned myself on the edge of town above a beautiful bridge to catch the peloton rolling out of town.
We were also very lucky to catch the caravan as it rolled out of town when we stopped for coffee at the finish of our ride.
Farewell dinner at Le Train Bleu - Gare de Lyon.
Following the start at Dinan we headed back to Paris for our farewell dinner with our tour group. The venue was the famous Le Train Bleu, built in 1901 at Gare de Lyon as part of the Paris Expo. The original "Blue Train" was as a luxury train with sleeping cars designed to convey wealthy British travelers from Calais to the French Riviera. The train ran from 1922 to 1938 and the restaurant was renamed Le Train Bleu in 1968 in historic recognition of the old train.