30 - Ninth Tour title sent home from Paris, Doubling up in successful
Tour, Evans does Australia proud, Belgium goes Green
- Powerful time trial nearly knocks over classification,
Close call leaves us wondering what if?, Discovery sees bright future for
Contador, Prudhomme ends doping rumours, Predictor-Lotto's mixed emotions,
Millar's hopes blown, Highs and lows for Luxembourg, Horner would ride for
28 - Casar gives French some good news, Evans nicks
spectator, Discovery believes in mentally tough Contador, "Contador couldn't
hold his wheel", New Tour doping case?, Sastre to face Zubeldia for fourth,
Merckx says farewell in final break, Boogerd committed to retiring, Tosatto's
'bella fuga', Willems laments failed break attempt
27 - Sprinter blasts onto the big stage, Spanish
hope takes first yellow, Evans not worrying about could-haves, Bruyneel confronts
Tour finale, Horner: the Tour is 'real life', Prudhomme critical of UCI, Leaderless,
Rabobank copes with anger
26 #2 - Rabobank explains Rasmussen sacking, Moreni
and Cofidis leave Tour after positive test, Valverde: "It never seems to end",
Soler emerges as Tour's bright spot, Haselbacher "couldn't believe it", Klöden
"disappointed", BMC rethinks Astana sponsorship, Amadio backs current anti-doping
system, Gianetti not impressed
#2 - Tour de France responds to Vinokourov disgrace,
Millar speaks out on Vinokourov, Astana hotel searched, News of Vino's test
ripple throughout the sport, More reactions, Blood transfusion confusion,
Teams unite to form 'silver lining', Non-doping controversy adds to rest day
- Vinokourov positive for transfusion, Astana withdraws from Tour
- Vinokourov restores pride with second win in three days, Rabobank passes
the test, Disco relentless in pursuit of seconds, Kirchen happy with second,
Wegelius bets on Rasmussen, Barredo riding on empty, Merckx's "great experience"
- Rasmussen rides strong against rivals, Spanish hope for Miguel Indurain's
successor, Cioni and Horner shepherd Evans to Cognac, Gerrans getting by,
Pippo passing Pyrénées, Coalition of Predictor and Rabobank?
- Rasmussen stuns field in TT, Phoenix from the ashes, Evans calls time trial
"very good", Predictor pleased with Evans' ride, Cancellara's crash, Contador
continues with consistency, Stage 13 post-race quotes
21 - Green tornado churns through Castres, Fédrigo's
long day up front, Kid Contador contests maillot blanc, Bruyneel's
Disco Strategy, Wegelius awaits Pyrénées
20 - First stage for man and country, Astana &
Vino back on track, Hincapie comments on Astana move, Evans hones in on TT,
No chasse-patate for Millar, Stage 11 post-race quotes, Schleck owes
one to Arvesen
- Demol Disco boys on the attack, Soler solos to special win, Riders reflect
on a memorable day, O'Grady on his accident, Carlström keeping a low profile,
Quickstep's Barredo waiting for Spanish run, Penalties all around
16 - The Chicken soars to race lead, Post-race quotes,
Bad day at T-Mobile office, Cormet de Roselend: always causing casualties
15 - Seven a lucky number for T-Mobile, Valverde
wants to drop Vino, Popovych has freedom, How the Australians fared, More
Tour reactions, Bottom drops out for Freire, Nuyens making it through Tour
14 -13 a new lucky number, Wiggins' long day, 13
not a lucky number, Dean plays Hushovd henchman, Bennati fighting back, Evans
survives first week, Stage six reactions, Pozzato to try again, Vande Velde
on Vino and Zabriskie
July 13- Pippo as promised, Vinokourov and Klöden injured, Cancellara
gets a bonus day, Boonen gives up the green, Medical report: bloody Thursday,
Stage five reactions, Hunter on stage hunt, The theory of bike racing
July 11- Stage 3 winner's story, Augé emulates Jacky Durand,
Pre-race chatter, Reactions to the stage into Compiègne, Sébastien
Joly diagnosed with cancer
July 10- Steegmans lights up stage one, Scare for Cancellara,
Crash hits big names, McEwen not feeling good, Quinziato the first domino,
Vansevenant enjoys his moment of glory, More bad luck for Cavendish, Freire
#2 - Evans and Rogers with mixed reactions, McEwen
keeps tank topped, No song for Lancaster, Gerrans ready, Come on sprinters,
light my fire, Thomas tops Barloworld, Livingstone would welcome Tour back
- Pozzato Pronto: Filippo for Le Tour, Boonen for good prologue, Freire will
start, CSC Ready for Tour challenge
- Evans happy with build-up, T-Mobile: Rogers over injury problems, Livingstone's
Grand (Départ) vision, Medical checks and pre-race action, Millar time again?,
Open Tour departs London
- More Moreau: French Champion ready for Tour, Blow for Freire, 2007 Tour
by numbers, Zabriskie moving forward, Discovery "goes green"
Following on from his Tourist's
guide to the Tour de France Prologue route, Cyclingnews scribe Ben
Atkins has donned the lycra again to give you an insider's look at Stage 1,
where the world's top cyclists will follow in his footsteps next week, albeit
a little quicker.
The Tour de France's Stage 1 starts at the point in London that the Prologue
left off - The Mall. This is London's grandest boulevard, drawing a straight
line between Buckingham Palace - the Queen's official residence in London -
at one end and Trafalgar Square - via Admiralty Arch - at the other.
This road is no stranger to sporting excellence as, apart from yesterday's
prologue, this is the spot where the London Marathon finishes each April. Of
course it was the place where then World Champion Tom Boonen won the sprint
from Britons Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish, to take the final, and most prestigious,
stage of last year's Tour of Britain. Boonen and Cavendish will both be here
for this stage, and they'll both be looking for victory in Canterbury on this
This whole area is brimming with Royal and military presence, but is also home
to one of the most tranquil parts of the city: St James's Park. Any riders who
want to experience a bit of calm before the storm that will be the first nervous
road stage of the world's biggest race could do worse than take a stale loaf of
bread to the lakeside and feed the multitude of ducks, geese and other aquatic
birds who live there. There are signs requesting visitors not to feed the four
pelicans that live here, and riders should also look out for marauding gangs of
crazy grey squirrels!
Opposite the park is Waterloo place - featuring a victory column with a statue
of the Duke of Wellington on top. Yes, it's him again. We saw a lot of him yesterday,
but he was a pretty successful - and very rich - bloke, so he has a pretty big
presence in this part of town. Waterloo Place leads to the beginning of Regent
Street, which heads up to Piccadilly Circus and on to cross Oxford Street in
London's principle shopping district.
At the top of The Mall is Admiralty Arch, part of the headquarters of the Royal
Navy, but before we reach there, over to the right is the main parade ground
of Horse Guards. This is the location where each June the Trooping of the Colour
ceremony takes place where the guards - and other regiments - parade for the
Queen's Official Birthday. As a bit of a contrast, this is to be the venue for
the beach volleyball tournament during the London Olympics in 2012.
At the far side of the parade ground, an anonymous looking brick wall hides
the back gardens of Downing Street. There is plenty of high security here, including
CCTV cameras and barbed wire. As with the gates on Whitehall, it's not clear
whether these are here to keep us out, or them in! I wonder whether recently
installed Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be in, to see the race pass so close
to his new house. I would be!
Passing through Admiralty Arch, we enter Trafalgar Square. Apart from being
a celebration of the great sea battle with Nelson's Column at it's centre, this
is also a meeting point of several of the capital's major streets: if we turn
90 degrees to the right we are on Whitehall - home to much of Britain's government
departments, and where the Prologue started yesterday; to the left is St Martin's
Lane and the Charing Cross Road which lead up towards Covent Garden and the
theatre district of the West End and Soho; straight on is the Strand, one of
the most fashionable parts of London during the first half of the 20th century,
boasting such establishments as the Savoy Hotel and Simpson's in the Strand.
Today though, we are taking the second right, heading towards the River Thames
down Northumberland Avenue.
On reaching the River Thames, the route will turn right on to the Victoria Embankment.
There are several historic sights to be seen along this road, but the most spectacular
views are of the opposite bank and straight ahead. To the left, one of the only
high buildings in this part of London, the Shell Centre (London headquarters of
the eponymous oil giant) dominated the skyline until a few years ago (the turn
of the century in fact, as it was erected as part of London's millennium celebrations)
when the London Eye was built. Measuring 135 metres high and built right on the
riverbank in front of the old County Hall (now the London aquarium), the Eye is
basically a giant Ferris wheel, affording amazing, uninterrupted views across
To the front, we are heading towards something that we saw in yesterday's prologue:
the Houses of Parliament. Riders once again get a chance to check the time,
before they turn left again onto Westminster Bridge and the first of three Thames
crossings. From the bridge the peloton will be treated to exceptional views
up and down the river before it passes out of sight as we head towards Waterloo
Areas around major mainline stations are never the most salubrious of places,
and as we turn on to York Road at the side of Waterloo it's no exception. More
Duke of Wellington presence creeping in here, as it's named after his great and
final victory over Napoleon, but the reason for routing the course this way is
far more peaceful. Waterloo is (currently, until the high speed track to King's
Cross is completed) the London terminus for the Eurostar, the rail link to Paris
and Brussels, and the ultimate (if ruinously expensive) symbol of civilised concorde
between Britain and its continental neighbours.
Turning away from the station area, the course runs along Belvedere Road and
the area known as the South Bank. Here we pass by the Royal Festival Hall -
one of the city's premier concert venues, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the National
Theatre and the London Television Centre before arriving at Blackfriars Bridge
and a traverse back to the north side of the River.
At the top of New Bridge Street there are three choices of direction: left takes
us into Fleet Street, former home of the British press, the Central Criminal Court
(the 'Old Bailey') and the home of the mythical 'Demon Barber', Sweeney Todd;
straight on takes us up Farringdon, towards Smithfield and the City. The course
turns right here though on to Ludgate Hill, and immediately the enormous, imposing
figure of Sir Christopher Wren's greatest work, St Paul's Cathedral dominates
the road ahead. Built by Wren towards the end of the 17th century to replace the
previous cathedral that was destroyed by the Great Fire. The golden cross at the
top of the main dome is 108 metres high and the façade is such that it's really
difficult to take the whole thing in from the front. It was here that Prince Charles
married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
Passing to the side of St Paul's, we head towards Mansion House before swinging
left up Queen Victoria Street and the Bank of England. Here in the heart of
the financial district, the many columned Bank sits comfortably among the modern
skyscrapers like Tower 42 and 'the Gherkin'.
The course swings right, back down towards the River on King William Street, and
passes by a 62 metre high stone column topped with a ball of fire. This is the
Monument - it needs no other name. It was near this spot in the hot summer of
1666, that a baker's oven in (delicious sounding) Pudding Lane caught fire and
caused a conflagration that destroyed around two-thirds of the city. The Great
Fire of London - celebrated in the classic children's song London's Burning
[that inspired a far better song of the same name by the Clash - Ed] - not only
left hundreds of thousands homeless, but it had the positive effect of ending
the great plague that had been ravaging the city since the previous year. Sadly,
the Monument is swamped by its surrounding buildings, and is no longer such a
feature of the London skyline.
As Eastcheap becomes Tower Street and then Tower Hill, another of London's
iconic buildings comes into view. Classified as a World Heritage Site by the
United Nations, the Tower of London was started by William the Conqueror in
1068, and was continually added to by several monarchs over the centuries until
it became what it is today.
After passing around the Tower, we take in our third river crossing - over one
of the Victorians' greatest engineering achievements. Tower Bridge - the most
easterly and recognisable of London's Bridges - was built to allow tall ships
to pass beneath it to reach the docks and the Custom House beyond it. The bridge
is rarely called upon to open these days, as very little large traffic comes this
far up the river.
On crossing the river, there will be a special ceremony with London's Mayor:
Ken Livingstone, whose headquarters are in City Hall on the southern bank. Luckily
we are still in the neutral zone!
Inevitably, as we head away for the city centre, the tourist attractions become
rather thinner on the ground than before. Once across the river we turn left
on to Jamaica Road and pass by the districts of Southwark, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.
As the road crosses Deptford Creek - a tributary of the Thames - it heads into
Greenwich where the Depart Réel will be given. Towards the river stands the sadly
charred hulk of the Cutty Sark an - until recently - beautifully preserved tea
clipper left in dry dock as a museum to London's trading past. Sadly, last month,
while renovation work was being undertaken, a fire caused extensive damage to
the ship, which will take years to put right.
Further along, the road passes between the Old Royal Naval College - now part
of the University of Greenwich - and the national Maritime Museum. The skyline
to the left is dominated by the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, built on London's
old derelict docklands area on the Isle of Dogs, and the Millennium Dome (now
called the O2 after the mobile phone company that sponsors it). To the right
though, on top of the hill in Greenwich Park is the reason that the real start
is here, the Royal Observatory, and the thing that put London in the centre
of the trading world, the Greenwich Meridian.
Any riders with GPSs would do well to check them here; the Greenwich Meridian
is zero degrees longitude, and therefore the point against which the position
of every other place in the world is measured. It is also this place that gives
its name to Greenwich Mean Time (although for daylight saving purposes we are
currently on British Summer Time), which is also the time that clocks all over
world are set in relation to.
There is a tired old cliché that goes something like, "when a man is tired
of London, he is tired of life", so it will be with heavy heart that the peloton
heads east along the Trafalgar Road through Woolwich towards Plumstead, Erith
and Kent. But having checked their bearings, and set their watches, the riders
can safely continue on their pilgrimage to Canterbury, safe in the knowledge
that they know their place in the world.
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