Tag Archives: Brittany

Roadside for a TTT: Tour de France Stage 9 in Plumelec

On the Saturday evening after watching Stage 8, I returned to the house to find the appero being served and the barbecue being readied for cotes de boeuf, saucisses and pork chops. Drink was taken and I hatched a last-minute plan to watch the TTT with the one true cycling fan amongst the group.

We set off at 10am from our location in central Brittany to drive the hour towards the TTT course. I felt it was a bit early and wasn’t relishing nursing my groggy head for several hours at the roadside before the race came past. My companion was right to leave so early though, as we got through a few back roads and pretty close to the course at just the right moment before the verges became clogged with parked cars. We’re on the penultimate climb, about 5km from the finish line, and have a good view down the drag of the teams heading our way.

It’s already jam packed with fans and we see several teams doing an easy recce, as well as Oleg Tinkoff riding the stage – nobody seemed to recognise the Tinkoff-Saxo team owner, despite Contador being hugely popular in France.

The madness of the publicity caravan whizzes through, and there are some ugly scenes. It’s another cliche that can ring true – grown adults debase themselves for a commercial freebie, but that’s for another blog post.

Several riders in white and red, publicising Mecenat Chirurgie Cardiaque – a heart surgery charity. There are several Tour luminaries including Roger Legeay, former DS of Gan / Credit Agricole, Jean-Francois Pescheux, former race director, Bernard Hinault and Bernard Thevenet.

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To the racing, and the teams come through in descending order of the highest-placed rider on GC. Orica are just surviving, as I overheard Matt White explaining to a journalist the previous day. They had come to win the TTT, and since it’s now impossible, with 3 riders retired and 1 rolling wounded, they will be taking it easy.

My friend and I try to start a stopwatch – I’m no timekeeper, so I focus on the photos and note-taking, while he aims to clock which teams are ‘up’ or ‘down’.
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Ups and downs following Stage 8

I was lucky enough to be in position to see the start and finale of Stage 8 of the 2015 Tour de France, which took in 181.5km from Rennes to Mûr-de-Bretagne.

I’m staying with my in-laws very close to the 50km mark at Saint-Méen-Le-Grand and had an ambitious plan to watch here as well as at the start and finish. Unsurprisingly this idea was a bit too much to ask, due to various factors.

Having enjoyed mooching about the start area in 2011 at Dinan I wanted to do this again, and wasn’t disappointed, getting close to team buses, managers, journalists doing their work and a few riders. It is much more interesting for me that the tacky publicity caravan, which wears pretty thin after having seen it once or twice.

As I waded through crowds and headed towards the paddock, a guy wearing a Festina cap caught my eye. The scandal of 1998 must be forgiven, I thought. I tried wearing a retro Festina jersey back home once and the slagging and banter became tedious – even 15 years on, the name is synonymous with heavy-duty endemic doping.

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 8: it’s Mûr, not The Mur

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Tour de France Stage 8, Rennes to Mûr-de-Bretagne. I’ve seen the uphill finish before, in 2011, and in 2015 the route is even more accessible for me, starting just 30km from where I will be staying, and making its way through an area I know well.

Mûr de Bretagne climb

The climb at the finish is steep and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s name means the ‘wall of Brittany’, in a similar fashion to the Flandrian bergs such as the Muur de Geraardsbergen. Fans are more likely to be confused give that the Mur de Huy is the uphill finish a few days earlier on Stage 4, in the French-speaking Walloon region of Belgium.
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Riding in Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany

I have been in France on holiday and while the blog is predominantly Scottish in outlook, I like to do some local French stuff once a year too.

Staying with my inlaws means I have had more time to ride, read and write than normal, with no daily grind and plenty of family members champing at the bit to look after our kids – even dinner and bath time is a pleasure for aunties and cousins.

Back road in Brittany
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Julien Simon, Saur-Sojasun

There are plenty of blogs that analyse the race better than I can, so something I have come to enjoy doing when writing about pro cycling is look around the edges at something different.

Montfort-sûr-Meu near the city of Rennes in Brittany is the hometown of 26 year old Tour debutant Julien Simon. It is just down the road from where I am staying for 3 weeks holiday. Simon was on my radar last year and it was nice to see he got selected for his first Tour de France. It gives me a good reason to follow one of the lesser known teams and riders in the race.

He is leading the French domestic race series, similar to the Premier Calendar, but with a scoring system that lasts the whole season. He also won two stages of the Tour of Catalonia and is breaking through to a new chapter in his career with new found confidence in his ability.


image: David Flores

Julien Simon
Image: Laurie Beylier
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Tour de France stage 6 depart

I went up to Dinan to have a look at the depart of the Tour de France stage as the race left Brittany for Lisieux in Normandy. Again, I got some great shots but have been battling with rural internet connection speeds and don’t have the photos online yet- to come. For the meantime I wanted to share my thoughts and observations from the stage start, which was more interesting than I expected.

André Greipel
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French amateur racing- Trophées de Brocéliande Montfort

A local race that I watch during my stay in Brittany was the Montfort round of the Trophées de Brocéliande series on Saturday 2nd July.

IMG_1874.JPGMore, and better photos to follow

It was the final of a regional series for 3rd category racers affiliated to the FFC – France’s equivalent to British Cycling. Juniors will also be competing. I gather FFC racers start at cat.3- the racing was pretty fast and competitive, and as a BC Cat.4, I wouldn’t expect to last the pace.

The race was run over 16 or 17 laps of a 6km course, that passes through the town of Montfort-sur-Meu. The start/finish passes the local junior school, the course was flattish, with one long very gradual drag.

Strung out on the drag
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Jean Bobet in Aberdeen

Tomorrow We Ride is written by Jean Bobet, brother of three-time (1953-55) Tour de France winner Louison.

A very strong cyclist in his own right, he hestitated before pursuing a professional career as a bike rider. With good school grades and a degree in English (during which time he won the student world championships) he went on to spend time teaching French at Robert Gordon College in Aberdeen.

I went cycling – for I had packed my bike all the same – in the superb Highland countryside with the Aberdeen Wheelers, who made my life difficult: not because of their cycling potential, but because of their fearsome local accent.

Tomorrow, we ride   by Jean Bobet
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Snakebite puncture

In a bizarre Tarantinoesque double-death, this Breton corn snake reared up and punctured the tyre of the cyclist, bringing him down at 3omph, while at the same time being decapitated by the 23x700c tyres.

Dead snake on road

Just kidding- came across a dead snake on the road. Not something you see every day back home.