On the train from Lille to Arras I met up with a mother and daughter from Norway who are following the Tour de France from Leeds to the first rest day. Ashild is a huge Peter Sagan fan. She has been able to meet him and she shared her photos. She must be thrilled as he had a very good day today in spite of the cobbles and muck.
My hotel, Chambres d’ hotes La Cour des Grands in St Nicolas-Arras, is lovely; however, I missed the small print that says check in from 5-7 p.m. I used the phone I got at Heathrow to call when I found the front door locked. The proprietor was gracious about coming over and letting me in, giving me a key, a map, the log in for wifi and the code for the front door. This is the first time I’ve stayed in a hotel that does not maintain staff at reception. Once I was in it was fine. I used my French phrase book to ask the maid where I might find a laundromat. She gave me excellent directions by pointing and waving her arms.
The plan was to do a load of laundry and then continue on with clean clothes in my pack and watch the Tour in an Irish pub in English. This worked well last year in Bergen and Lyon. Alas, the French manager at Dan Foyle’s Irish Pub in Arras is more interested in heavy metal music than sport. He turned the television to the Tour and then proceeded to block the view, even making out with his girlfriend. And to add insult to injury, the pub was out of Guinness. Revoke the Irish in the pub sign!
I hiked in the rain and muck to my hotel and tucked myself in bed to watch the last 78 km. What a day. I was cold and miserable walking around town. I cannot imagine how wretched the race course must have been. I watched rider after rider go down. I got teary watching Chris Froome abandon the race at about 66 km. Then I rooted for Fabian Cancellara to bridge to the yellow jersey trio and go for a win. It was not to be as Lars Boom was on fire. Tour GC leader Vincenzo Nibali earned more respect today by controlling the front all day.