The last time I came to France for the Tour was 1997, and a bunch of Danish fans told me, in a friendly but forthright fashion, exactly which part of the female anatomy they thought Chris Boardman was.
Fifteen years on and the British hopeful is Bradley Wiggins, and after a week in France not one person made a disparaging remark about him. One Frenchman at the roadside took a look at our "Allez Wiggo" banner and said with a smile: "Meilleur".
|Arts and crafts hour.|
|Double-sided multi-purpose wonder-banner.|
|The 1st timecheck was at the top of this hill, we were at the foot of the descent.|
|Luis Leon Sanchez catches teammate Bram Tankink.|
|Look at my f*ck*ng red T-shirt! Not to mention my sweet hat.|
|Two Argos Skil Shimano riders.|
|Your guess is as good as mine.|
|I wonder if he's still free?|
|Chris Froome. The man who does for loyalty and discretion what John Terry does for race relations.|
|Poor Cadel, the defending champ is not having a good time.|
Then, a few days later, we went to Macon for the start.
|The publicity caravan vehicles weren't quite as weird as they used to be.|
|If only the car made of baguettes had been followed by a car made of sausages and a motorbike made of brown sauce.|
|"You have the man for Paris" said one Frenchman, as he took a photo of his daughter in front of our banner. I did my best not to shriek "Stop jinxing it!" Mainly because I don't know the French for "jinxing".|
|Here they come.|
|My father-in-law got this awesome shot of the KOM, World Champion, Maillot Jaune and Maillot Blanc leading the pack.|
|I went in for the detail shot. I like to think Cav is saying: "Just publicly refer to all his wins as 'shit small races' and then he'll shut up."|
|Spartacus and Edouard Vorganov, among others.|