And so the Tour de France is over for another year, with Brit Chris Froome winning the yellow jersey for a second time!
Want to relive some of the action from this year’s greatest road race? Read on for more from Chris Boardman – creator of our range of Boardman bikes, as well as the Boardman Elite range – who shared with us his exploits and observations from the final stages of the Tour…
Castles, chicken houses – and dodgy hotels…
“As usual, the Tour de France has provided a rich variety of experiences, both in front of and behind the camera. In Utrecht we had a whistle stop tour of more than a race – we got a glimpse of just how the bicycle has transformed their society and how it could change ours too… if we let it.”
“Stage 2 was supposed to be a quiet sprint stage, but the strong crosswinds saw some of the favourites lose more than a minute and a half, including Movistar’s Nairo Quintana. The Colombian’s combined time on the mountain stages was less than Froome’s, meaning the stage to Zeeland arguably lost him the 2015 race overall.
Behind the scenes, we saw magnificent châteaux and bizarre chicken houses, and stayed in picturesque farm houses and grimy hotels only suitable for someone on the run (it all goes to make up the rich tapestry!).
Within the race we saw surprises too, some of them terrible in the form of crashes, others a delight. No one anticipated Steve Cumming’s win at the top of the Côte de la Croix Neuf – we were jumping up and down in the TV studio willing him on. The quiet Wirralian’s win was popular amongst both public and peloton alike.”
Mountain stages and French service stations!
“Into the mountains and Chris Froome’s domination on the first summit finish saw cries of foul, but by the time they came out of the highlands his performances were looking far from superhuman as he battled to hang on to the leader’s jersey.
Following the race in our Renault Espaces, we have driven 3500km and sampled the delights of a wide variety of French service stations. I also had the most scary in-car experience of my life when we had to drive over the Col de Galibier in the dark, rain and thick cloud. With a road width barely more than the car, we were able to see less than 10 metres ahead, the white line (not lines, as we could only see one at a time!) suddenly disappearing left or right into hairpin bends – all the time knowing there was a 2000ft drop either side in the darkness!”
Paris and La Course
“The last night’s drive to Paris is always epic, and this year’s was nearly 600km. Be it on a bike or in the car, arriving in the French capital to see the Eiffel Tower is always a thrill. This year the riders were met by rain for only the second time I can remember, making the oily cobbles of the Champs-Élysées treacherous.
For the second year, the Tour’s arrival was preceded by La Course women’s race, and I don’t think there was a single rider who didn’t crash at some point. Anna Van der Bergen broke away with 6km to go and, due to the slippery conditions in the corners, held off the peloton until the line.
Two hours later it was the turn of the men, and although the rain had abated the wet surface remained. The 2015 start of the final stage started barely 10km from the finishing circuit in Ville-d’Avray, where the very first Tour de France officially finished in 1903.
Due to the weather a seldom-used rule came into effect; time gaps between the riders would not be recorded, effectively neutralising the GC race. Froome had won when he passed under the finishing banner for the first of 10 laps, effectively clinching victory before the race ended.”
The journey home
“The long and unglamorous pack followed the victory laps as the TV crews stowed equipment for the journey home. The bikes I’d used for the race (a Disc SLS 9.8 for the finish line reviews, and an AiR 9.8 for the set) were hung in the outside broadcast truck for the final time, this time ready to head back to Boardman HQ.
We had our annual night out in Paris, enjoying a mojito or two (very sophisticated ITV!) before joining the line in Charles de Gaulle airport to catch the plane home.
I reckon I’ve spent almost 2 years of my life on the Tour de France – that’s about 4% of my existence – either participating in it or reporting on it, watching Britain’s transformation from novelty participant to one of the strongest cycling nations on track and road, a trend I hope continues for years to come. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it… well, almost! I’ll certainly be back next year, to follow their journey around this magnificent country and record their heroic exploits. Roll on 2016!”
Inspired by Froome’s win at this year’s Tour de France? Even if you’re not quite ready to compete for next year’s yellow jersey, we’ve got a fantastic range of bikes, cycling accessories and clothing online and in-store to get you ready for a great summer of cycling!