Paris. The team, all 15 riders, made it safely to the capital yesterday. Led by the Tours own Flechage team (with klaxons ringing and lights flashing) they rode straight up the Champs Elysees ... at one point taking the full width of the grand avenue towards the Arc de Triomphe. They popped champagne corks and drained their glasses en route just like the pros. Hundreds of Parisians and tourists cheered them on as I hung out our photo car shooting like mad. At the Arc we took more photos under the bemused stares of the Gendarmes, unaccustomed to this kind of escorted arrival en masse. It was a spectacular finale to our great adventure. From there we traveled to the Anquetil Velodrome, where the Tour used to finish, for a reception with 150 friends, family, the Mayor of Rotterdam and the Dutch Ambassador. The team presented an interim check for 100,000 Euros to the Mayor for Kika.
A party followed in the evening, which was still going strong when we left it just after 1am. I've never felt so welcomed by the families and friends. Juli was there too. Wonderful to see her appear out of the crowd on the Champ Elysees and become part of our new Dutch family. I have lots to fill in when I'm home. Thanks for reading along. It was the trip of a lifetime for the riders, girlfriends/wives (so helpful), Wilfred and his Cycling Dutchman team (Wouter, Leone, Stefan, Peter, Bos and Melanie) and me. We owe a huge thank you to the men of the Flechage unit. Their 40,000 yellow arrows kept us on track right across France. Having them with us on the Champs Elysees was incredible. Also joining us were our two French compatriots who also rode the entire Tour. Finally special thoughts go out to Melanie and her little girl who was injured back home yesterday, and to teammate Joost Vastert who lost his mother to cancer a month before the Tour for Kika began. Nice to see him ride into Paris with his father and two brothers.
I love these guys and can't say enough about what they accomplished. I hope to see many of them again, this kind of bond is not easily forgotten or broken. Wilfred and I are already talking about organizing a Tour for next year, but this one will always be unique.