Whilst Bradley 'Wiggo' Wiggins was pulling on his new jersey in a deserved epic solo win, some of us were basking in the spectacle that is euro fans at a road race. We were at the French National Road Race Champs to see how our neighbours across the water do it.
This year the race was held in Boulogne, a thirty minute drive from the channel tunnel and an easy place to reach, held on a 13km circuit that ran along a coastal road before cutting back through the centre of town. Perfectly spectator friendly, fourteen laps meant that photographer Andrew Waterman, who we were travelling with, had plenty of time to snap the big Pro Tour teams and riders battle over a horrific and brutal course. A vicious steep road from the beach to the cliffs offered the best view as riders ground their gears to get over the top.
The final five laps proved to be the toughest, as the break and chasing peloton blew to pieces. Sylvain Chavanel rode across to a group of six riders before attacking and riding what looked to be the three hardest laps of his life. A chase from Roux and former winner Voeckler got fans into a dizzy spin, Chavanel's trademark white gnashers leading him through the pain.
1. Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
2. Anthony Roux (FDJ)
3. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
Images (where watermarked) are used with permission of Andrew Waterman.
Early twenty man break leads over the back of the course