Daniel’s been hogging this page a bit and having arrived at the Tour yesterday afternoon I decided to give him a break. Coming into Marseille from a wet and stormy London was a shock as the locals must have packed away their long trousers months ago.
I caught a cab into the port city, a 30-minute drive during which the driver kept giggling because I’d asked him to go to the Stade Velodrome, where the stage was finishing. “Don’t you know the Tour de France is finishing there today?” he guffawed, before dropping me at the first metro station to make my own way to the finish.
Having reached the press room, my first impulse was to dig the summer wardrobe out of my case. Hopefully, I’ll now get at least a few days of use out of my shorts and Birkenstocks before heading north again. Rain was predicted by some, but there was as much chance of that happening as German TV patching up their relationship with the Tour’s bosses after blacking out Tour coverage for a day in protest at the positive test delivered by T-Mobile’s Patrik Sinkewitz.
There are all kinds of conspiracy theories buzzing around the race just now – the World’s won’t take place in Germany being just one – but my own big concern was much more personal. When you’re stuck in a very small lift with your deputy editor, features editor and a leading freelance photographer, who do you eat first? After the four of us got trapped in a space the size of a broom cupboard and no one answered our repeated pressing on the emergency bell, I did start to mull over this question over. I had just about decided that my deputy, Ellis, was the most expendable, as he was going home this morning, when they managed to extricate us, thankfully without the need for Keanu Reeves on a rescue mission through the lift’s ceiling.
The heat has shown no signs of relenting in Montpellier. Reaching the press room, the first instinct is to find a seat near one of the many TVs. The second is to make sure that none of those sitting close to your chosen set has been wearing the same shirt for more than a couple of days. There’s only so much luggage you can carry, and there’s been a distinct lack of freebie T-shirts being handed out to the press this year. With no air con and a thousand laptops, it’s getting just a little bit too hot and steamy in here.