July 03, 2017 0 Comments
The big day came around and the heavens opened. It must be such a huge disappointment for the organisers who spend months, even years, organising the delivery of such huge events when the weather threatens to spoil it. In the end, it didn't seem to make a huge difference to the crowds. They simply put on their waterproofs and brought their umbrellas and the streets of Düsseldorf were lined with hundreds of thousands of fans from all over the world.
I took the tram from the Altstadt up to the Messe stop and walked the 50 metres or so to the start of the Team Paddock area. The first team I encountered was Wanty-Group Gobert, the Belgian-based Pro Continental outfit who were making their debut at the Tour de France. None of their nine riders had ever participated in the Tour before, so it was a very special day for all concerned. Here Marco Minnaard Was warming up, as he was due to be only the second rider to roll down the start ramp of the Individual Time Trial.
As some riders went to recon the circuit they were well wrapped up against the elements as the rain continued throughout the morning. Great caution was needed on the wet roads as many riders reported back that the surface was extremely slippy and dangerous.
The biggest crowds of the day were gathered by the Team Movistar bus where the Columbian star rider Nairo Quintana was situated. The fans all dressed in their national colours of yellow, blue and red made a huge party atmosphere for their hero.
Not to be outdone the Polish fans were also out in force, gathering at the BORA - hansgrohe team bus to shout the name of their favourite Rafal Majka, their flags making for a colourful scene.
Team mechanics worked hard throughout the morning preparing the time trial bikes, ensuring they were dried once again after the recon rides and then taken to the UCI to be officially verified as being to the correct specification and weight.
The team's staff must take every bike and present it to the UCI officials. Some of the TT bikes are difficult to ride, or the wrong size for the staff, and this can lead to some unusual sights at the course entrance.
After the final checks are all complete the riders prepare for the main event of the day. An effort of approximately 20 minutes, with their final warm-up on turbo trainers next to their team bus.
The rain still pouring I made my way to the start area to watch some of the riders leaving the start ramp. There was a huge crowd gathered here, more like an umbrella festival than a bike race.
I made my way to the finish area to watch some of the riders coming across the line. The surface was as wet at the finish as it was at the start, and the riders needed to take extreme caution all around the course. No one wants to crash on day one of a three-week race.
After watching a few riders complete the course I made my way a couple of hundred meters further along the back of the course until I found the press area, mix zone and then the area were the soigneurs were waiting to greet their riders with towels and refreshments. There was also a gaggle of journalists and photographers waiting to see the riders arrive.
After the final rider was in it was time to head back to the mix zone and the international tv, radio and press interviews with the races key protagonists of the day. Geraint Thomas of Team Sky was delighted to wear the yellow jersey and get his first ever grand tour stage win.
After all the excitement died down I made my way back towards the tram stop located near the team paddock area. Almost all the team busses and mechanic trucks had left. There was one rider still warming down on his turbo trainer and signing autographs. Hats off to Taylor Phinney - a true ambassador for the sport of pro cycling.
I paused for the final few snaps of the day and then boarded the tram for the short hop back to the Altstadt and got some dinner near the Bergplatz, not far from where the race would start once again in the morning.
All these images were captured using the Huawei P10 Dual Lens. If you want to see more images taken using this great phone camera you can search using the hashtag #huaweiP10 and #ShowWhatYouLove and #huaweilovestravel
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