Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tour du Poitou-Charentes

We have lived in this area for nine years and yet there are many places we have yet to visit and Saint Maixent L'Ecole was one of these places, until this week. However, our relatively new found passion for cycling has had the added bonus of widening our Poitou-Charentes horizons as we have spent the summer out and about with our bikes. Tuesday saw the start of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, our local professional cycling tour, in the lovely (and fairly local) military town of St Maixent L'Ecole. Not only did we spend some time soaking up the pre-race atmosphere, we also took our bikes and spent the afternoon exploring the town and the local undulating countryside.

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
The Abbey Saint Maixent L'Ecole

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
The old town St Maixent L'Ecole

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
St Maixent L'Ecole

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
Narrow streets St Maixent L'Ecole

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
Very patriotic
This was a very unexpected find in a small French town, but perfect for a photo opportunity combined with my patriotic choice of T-Shirt. I am not normally to be found wandering around in France wearing British clothing, in fact I had to borrow this shirt from Ed, but as there is one lone British entrant in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes (Alex Dowsett, team Movistar) I felt the need to show my support.

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
Alex Dowsett before the race
We hung around the Movistar team bus like groupies waiting for the lycra-clad cyclists to make an appearance and were not disappointed. Aside from their toned, tanned legs which can have a funny effect on me, they were very friendly, polite and relaxed. I got my programme signed by Alex Dowsett and he thanked us for our good luck wishes, before heading off to sign in on the podium.

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
Team Movistar bikes
While the legs do it for me, it is the bikes that Ade likes to ogle at and there were some mighty fine examples on show.

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
The peleton
Awaiting the arrival of the peleton (main group of cyclists) can be a long wait for a brief glimpse of lycra, but the power and excitement as they rush past is worth the wait.

French Village Diaries Tour du Poitou Charentes St Maixent L'Ecole stage one depart Team Movistar Alex Dowsett
An unfortunate incident
Road cycling can have it's risks, even for the spectators and we were unfortunately witness to a nasty accident while waiting for the cyclists. One of the Gendarme security motorcyclists, who ride the route ahead of the peleton, lost control as he came around a roundabout and his bike skidded over a curb and into the crowd. Thankfully there were no serious injuries, but a young lady was taken to hospital with a possible broken leg. It was a real shock to watch and seemed to happen in slow motion. If you are at an event like this, please stay safe and don't sit on the curbs, at least if you are standing you have a chance of running! It hasn't put us off and we are hoping to catch some more of the action this week. More information on the Tour can be found on their website here.