Bonjour! Stage 21, the triumphal ride into Paris! The sun came out – a relief after the past two days and there was the usual friendly handshakes and congratulations to the Yellow Jersey. Team Sky were in good mood, enjoying beer en route and all processed gracefully to Paris. The racing began on the Champs-Élysées. The win went to André Greipel like last year, but all the more sweet for him as a stage win had eluded him this Tour. Finally, the champions, Team Sky brought home their man, Chris Froome – a brilliant third win. Definitely time for a lie-down! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 20 The last Alpine stage and, nearly the end of the race! In some ways it was a continuation of yesterday – pouring rain, tough climbs and daring descents. The stage began with silence to remember the victims of the terror attack in Munich, so sadly, my dove appears again. There were brave rides by Alaphilippe, Pantano and Nibali but the outstanding descent came from Movistar’s Ion Izagirre, who took the stage win. It was fitting that Poels and Froome crossed the last mountain together, Froome riding on to win the whole race along with all his eight comrades from Team Sky. He is in the history books now with three wins to his name. Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 19 was an amazing stage. It had everything, from sunshine to torrential rain, from brave breakaways to individual brilliance. The Astana team went to the front, took a look around and just went for it! They led for much of the day. The rain came towards the end of the stage, changing everything, suddenly everyone was losing balance, some falling badly including Pierre Rolland and Chris Froome, the latter completing the stage on another borrowed bike. He was helped along the last painful metres by his team-mate, Wout Pouels. At the finish, one of cycling’s best descenders, Romain Bardet, stole a march on everyone and went on to win. Helter skelter! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 18 was the second time-trial of this year’s Tour. This one was an uphill course where time-trial specialist, Tom Dumoulin was expected to repeat his sparkling performance from Stage 13. He put in a great time which no-one could catch, until Chris Froome set out. At the first time-check he was in 5th place, ‘unusual for him’ said the commentator. At the second time-check, he had gained 14 seconds and was speeding up. After the descent, he stormed home to victory, riding 21 seconds faster than Dumoulin. An incredible ride! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 17 went further into the Alps – (an area where I confess I have a connection, as one of my paintings lives nearby!) It was another blistering hot day, with four major climbs, including the Col de la Forclaz, with its winding road and great descent. The final climb was tough too, the gradient so steep that first-time stage winner, Ilnur Zakarin, almost ran out of time, not to mention his balance, to do up his jacket. It was a great win after a tough day! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 16 was a trip into Switzerland in honour of Fabian Cancellara for whom this will be his final Tour. The weather was fabulous and hot – perhaps a bit unbearable on a bike! The stage was lead most of the way by Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) in a such a strong ride that they both won the ‘most aggressive rider’ award, appearing together on the podium in a unique ‘first’. They couldn’t sustain their amazing performance for the sprint at the end – the big sprinters taking over, Alexander Kristoff losing out by a whisker to the immense Peter Sagan. Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 15 saw the route heading towards the Alps – the mountains and Mont Blanc clearly in view. There were climbs and descents but the excitement came with the tactical race – almost time-trial-like to look at – between Rafal Majka and Colombian rider, Jarlinson Pantano. They needled their way to the finish with a sudden sprint that Majka looked set to win but Pantano struck through to take the stage. He rides for Swiss team IAM Cycling and the day before the race crosses the border to Switzerland, this seemed a wholly fitting victory.Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 14 gave the sprinters another chance to shine after a long hot day’s riding. There were some classic Tour de France scenery, fields of bright sunflowers and deep blue skies. A great partnership between Jérémy Roy (FDJ) and Martin Elmiger (IAM) kept everyone on their toes and there was a lovely handshake between them as they were finally chased down. The race ended with a burst to the line, Mark Cavendish tucking in neatly behind Marcel Kittel. He cheekily darted round a frustrated Kittel to take win No.4 – Amazing and brilliant as ever!Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 13 began and ended in silence for the victims of the Nice attack. Race director, Christian Prudhomme announced, “We must continue and not to yield. The Tour will continue but it is a day of mourning”. The stage was an individual time-trial through the dramatic landscape of the Ardèche. The standout performance of the day from Dutch rider, Tom Dumoulin, arguably the world’s best time trialist – tipped for a gold medal at Rio. He is my featured rider for this stage and a well-deserved win. Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 12 is one that will live long in the memory for the worst possible reasons. The day began with a change of plan – the mountain too savaged by winds for the race to complete there. A new finish was decided upon at Chalet-Reynard. Crowds and media installed at the top, moved down to the new location, where there were crowds already. As the stage came to its climax, weaving through the throng of people, there was an horrendous collision for Richie Porte and then Chris Froome lost his bike completely. The sight of a desperate yellow jersey running to the finish until a new bike could reach him was extraordinary. The stage was won by Thomas De Gendt and fellow Belgian Serge Pauwels came second. It appeared that Froome and Porte had lost their places in the overall classification. The balance was restored by the organisers the next day. All of this dissolved to nothing later in the evening, as children and their families were mercilessly attacked in Nice. I gave up. Later, I drew a dove to remember them – a drop in the ocean. Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 11 was a hot, long route through red hills, violet skies and strong crosswinds but with a finish set for the sprinters. The expected win came from Green Jersey holder and World Champion, Peter Sagan. The complete surprise came from Chris Froome who sprinted alongside! Both men retained their jerseys and advanced their leads. A remarkable finish! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 10 became Australia Day with the first stage win this year for Michael Matthews. He lost out to Peter Sagan at the World Championships, so this victory was especially sweet, as the finishing positions were reversed in a great sprint to the line. I found that I kept reaching for the panorama paper for this stage, as there were many great views through gentle plane trees. Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 9 was a magical stage – for me at least – maybe less so for those riding it! I’ve always loved the Pyrenees, love it when the Tour nips over the border to Spain and Andorra is a special place for my husband and me. This visit was exceptional – a stage of two halves – extreme heat, blazing sunshine, followed by an almighty hailstorm at the close – sol y sombra and more! Both conditions provided great images to capture. In the race itself, Alberto Contador was the notable retirement (there haven’t been many thankfully), Team Sky and BMC were dominant with Chris Froome retaining Yellow and there’s a great race building for Adam Yates in second place. Dan Martin put a great bid in the rain but the stage was taken brilliantly by Tom Dumoulin. An amazing day! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 8 took place in the heart of the Pyrenees with four Cols to conquer! The Col du Tourmalet fell victim to Thibaut Pinot and Rafael Majka but thereafter, Team Sky launched their predatory attack on the race. They caught, they passed and then in a move, that looked to be inspired by Stephen Cummings yesterday, Chris Froome powered away in the most extraordinary descent. He was amazing, his long arms and legs made him look as though he was on someone else’s bike! Quite simply, he was brilliant, taking the stage win and with it the Yellow Jersey. Familiar territory for him, can he hold on to it until Paris? It’s a long way to go! Here are my drawings:
Sky boys on my shoulder
All yellow for Chris!
Froome wants everything today!
Fans on the mountain, Chris makes his move!
Who is it that rides like that and pedals from that position?
Pinot and Majka cross the summite of the Tourmalet
Bonjour! Stage 7 was dramatic! This stage was the first of three mountain stages in the Pyrenees and included the Tour favourite, Col d’Aspin at the end of a long day of climbing. The weather and scenery were glorious but the story of the race was glorious too – for Stephen Cummings, who astounded fans with his first stage win last year, (click here to see) took the race by the scruff of the neck and led a one-man breakaway with 25km to go. Champion rider, Vincenzo Nibali gave chase but there were 45 seconds between them at one point. It was Steve’s day and no-one could catch him! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 6 saw the route leave the Massif Central and head down towards the Pyrenees. This was the last battle of the sprinters before the mountains and it turned out to be another classic battle between Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel. Before that, the course went through the most gorgeous terrain with the deepest of blue skies! Just astounding. At the final dash to the line, Cavendish took the win with no doubt this time, still chasing his place in Tour de France history as the winner of the most stages. This was number 29. He needs to beat 34 set by the legendary Eddy Merckx – not easy but not impossible either… Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 5 began in Limoges and ended with another first-time wearer of the Yellow Jersey, Greg Van Avermaet. This time there was no doubt of the win, as Greg was way out in front as he came to the finish. He won his first stage last year in Rodez in a sprint with Peter Sagan (Click here for a reminder) and this time he showed his prowess in the hills. The fans were out in force today – some casting the course orange with a flare or powder – not quite sure what… and it was great to see fast and graceful descents for the first time this year. Here are my drawings:
Going for it!
Yellow Jersey for the first time! Greg Van Avermaet
Bonjour! Stage 4 continued the theme of Stage 3, this was really the longest route of the Tour through luscious countryside and warm sunshine. The route was suited to the sprinters but held a twist at the end, with an unclassified climb. This suited the bigger riders and again we saw another remarkable sprint finish – even closer than yesterday, ‘A cat’s whisker’ said the delighted winner, Marcel Kittel. Fantastic! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! Stage 3 saw one of the longest routes on this year’s tour, heading inland through pretty towns and villages. The excitement came right at the end where the new holder of the Green Jersey, Mark Cavendish took his 28th stage win by a whisker from André Greipel – a photo had to decide it. Incredibly close! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! So onto Stage 2, in the drizzle, with Mark Cavendish in the Yellow Jersey – simply wonderful for many fans to see. However, he was not destined to keep it, with the stage win and the jersey going to popular World Champion, Peter Sagan. The remarkable sprint to the finish, saw him come apparently from nowhere to cross the line. Special mention also to breakaway rider, Jasper Stuyven, who was caught by the peloton just 500m from the finish. Quite a day! Here are my drawings:
Bonjour! How wonderful to be back with Le Tour! Where did the year go? After a grim week in the UK, it was fantastic to lose oneself on the beautiful shoreline of Normandy. The stage was full of thrills, including a dramatic fall for Contador; a nip and tuck breakaway for Alex Howes and Anthony Delaplace but the man who took us all by surprise was Mark Cavendish, who brilliantly took his 27th stage win and his first ever Yellow Jersey! Wow! What a start! Here are my drawings:
Stage 1: Départ
All the red flags!
Cross winds by the sea
Tearing round the bend,
Celebration – The game is up
Stage 1, You can’t beat this lot!
Flat out to the finish!
Just when everyone writes him off, Cavendish does it again!