So there I was, stomping around Southwark in a very bad mood indeed. I had planned to camp out in Trafalgar Square to watch the opening ceremony for the Tour de France, but with an hour to go the square was getting unreasonably packed, and I had concluded that the last thing I wanted was to be jammed in the middle of a huge crowd for three hours. I had my camera, and I was pretty close to the stage, but I just knew that some idiot (you can tell an idiot by the way he/she is taller than you and blocking your view) would make it impossible for me to get any decent pictures. Plus, I was by myself, and who wants to be alone in a crowd?
I was now in Southwark, instead of Trafalgar Square, because I had decided to give up on this whole opening ceremony business, and intended to meet a couple of people there. They were both being suddenly and stubbornly unreachable by phone. After checking all the pubs I could find in the vicinity, with no success, I couldn't think of anything to do but go watch the opening ceremony after all. This time, I got off the tube at Westminster, and began to walk up Whitehall. The street was pretty clear, so I sat down on the curb some distance short of Trafalgar Square to watch the giant TV screen that had been set up.
It was, in short order, time to introduce the teams. Agritubel made their appearance on the big screen, followed by Saunier Duval and Milram. Around the time Milram was being introduced, I saw a small pack of riders in Agritubel colors cruise down behind some barriers right in front of me.
Holy cow. Lucky I had my camera.
Lucky my friends didn't answer their phones, in fact.
I spent the next couple of hours having gloriously clear shots of all the pro riders as their teams took turns cruising up and down Whitehall behind the barriers, while half a million people were stuffed in the middle of Trafalgar Square with no idea this was happening. I've attached my first amazed shot of David Millar to this post; the rest can be found here on Flickr (with a bonus shot of Didi Senft thrown in.)
Alas, my camera battery died with six teams to go, so there is no QuickStep and no CSC. There is consequently no record of the highlight of my evening, which was when I got spectacularly high-fived by Dave Zabriskie.
I just hope I'm so lucky tomorrow.