Over the Cobbles to Arenberg

Tour for Kika

This morning I packed my gear and creaked my way down the grand staircase at the beautiful Domaine Du Chateau De La Neuville Hôtel. It sits on a lovely parcel of land complete with pond, geese, swans and sheep. Ironically its 400 metres from a nuclear power station and its giant cooling towers. Regardless of the weather, there will always be clouds over Tihange.

This was one of several nights during our Tour that I wasn't able to stay in the same hotel as the team... as my decision to join them was long after all the original accommodations had been booked. Wilfred Kruijf of the Cycling Dutchman, has done a fantastic job managing the logistics. He's outside now at first light organizing things in one of the support vans as I'm typing this. While I'm on the subject I owe a special debt to Melanie Vandermeer for her patience and good nature in making all my arrangements. Elle est une dame magnifique.

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This was a day for the cobbles and after some 160km of busy roads, rain and punctures the sun shone on our peloton easing fears that the cobbles might be wet. Happily they were dry, but these sections will test the pros and should string out the race itself today. Our final kilometres felt like we were going in circles over the pave, left and right through small towns watched by the campers that were already taking their place along the route. The cobbles were also hard on the photo car. I got one section with the guys and then struggled to catch them. Each time I seemed to make progress a lumbering camper would cost me minutes. C'est la vie.

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As you can see from this photo the team are putting the SKINS compression gear to good use immediately following the stage, and they're enjoying the white camo tights as modeled here by Jasper.

Tour for Kika

The boys were super strong again with a handful feeling good enough to accelerate over the cobbles in the last 40km. They rode these sections hard to the finish just outside the entrance to the Arenberg forest (looking ominous in the gathering shade). The last shot is a few metres into the trench. Apologies for the abbreviated story... I slept last night like I was hit by a truck and must hustle to get down to breakfast.

8 Responses to Over the Cobbles to Arenberg

  1. Robbert van Holstein says:

    Micheal,

    Great shots once again! Always a good way to start my day at work by reading about the boys.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Robbert van Holstein says:

    Michael,

    Great shots, once again! Everytime a great way to start my day at the office, by checking how the boys are doing!

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Morning Michael
    writing a daily log on the move like this is time consuming as well as hard work, but it’s so interesting to keep up with your race, alongside the main event.
    Interesting images again today, love the diagonal shadow in image 2 the refreshing deluge in the next and that darkly dramatic image of the pavé, which also is shown in image 5. I was tickled by your reference to being held up by the lumbering camper. As a driver photographer I often have the feeling against camper vans, but also against groups of cyclists on Scotland’s narrow roads. It’s all perspective Michael. You have captured the race story well so far, I hope you enjoyed your all important breakfast.
    Keep looking after your energy levels it’s a hard task you have ahead, but what a show if images at the end.
    Take care, all the very best
    Douglas

  4. Melanie says:

    Good stories Michael and nice to see me mentioned off course, it was a pleasure. Great pictures as well, they give a good impression of how hard it must be. Like to see more soon. Take care, Melanie.

  5. ed yancer says:

    Michael, great stuff,really like the last photo of the pave!
    I look forward to what’s to come.
    Ed

  6. Mrs. Velodramatic says:

    Love the pictures. It’s like being with you on the trip. Thanks for taking the time to write and post, even if you’re losing sleep. I’m sure the boys are suffering more – but the pictures show they’re still riding strong. I want to see pain and suffering!! Can wait till Tourmalet.

  7. Tim says:

    Clever how you color-matched the flower shot! Also really loved the view of the boys from atop the hill. You really are one lucky bar steward to visit Arenberg – did you get to ride it?

    You and the crew really should have cleaned up the road a bit after your picnic; your mess wreaked havoc on the peloton today!

  8. Jono says:

    Great work Michael – love the water over the rider’s face shot. I will be catching up on your posts after a few days away from my pc.