Sunflower in the Wild, le Tour de France Edition
Ride Along with Staffer Paul Heimbach to Spectate the Final Stage of the Tour de France 2023
Last month, Sunflower’s Bike Shop Manager Paul Heimbach traveled with his partner, Laura, to Europe. His trip included many fabulous stops and sights, but we were most jealous of his day spent watching the 21st and final stage of this year's Tour de France on July 23. The Tour traditionally closes with a final sprint stage featuring eight laps of the iconic Champs-Élysées. Pull up a seat and relive this exciting day, as told through the eyes and ears of our very own Paul.
For the final stage of this year’s Tour de France, the race departed from the velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, which will be featured in the 2024 Paris Olympics. The velodrome is in a suburb of Paris, making it easily accessible by metro.
As we negotiated our way around the starting area, we decided to get in line to enter the Tour’s Village, which is set up at the departure site of each stage. Little did we know, we were supposed to have tickets for this experience. The day’s conditions were overcast with occasional showers, and it started to rain while we stood in line. The Tour organizers must have felt sorry for us because we were then told to follow an official and get out of the rain. Of course, this is all said in French, so we had no idea what exactly was going on – we just went with it.
As we followed along in line, we were led right into the Velodrome; but this, too was originally a ticket-only venue! We had inadvertently gotten right into the opening proceedings of the stage, with a highlight of Tour sponsors in the caravan and the rider introductions.
After trying to get some of the swag being thrown to the crowd and drying off from the rain, we had a look around the Velodrome before heading back outside to line up along the barriers to watch the riders head out for the final stage. Once we watched every rider and support vehicle go by, it was time to hurry back onto the train and into the heart of Paris.
Luckily, we arrived just on time for them to start the first of eight full laps of the 6.8 KM circuit of the Champs-Élysées! Of course, by the time we arrived, we were shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow spectators all trying to find a spot to watch the action.
If it hadn’t been for the giant video screen, we wouldn’t have been able to watch much of the race. We were merely a few feet away, but hidden behind the onslaught of spectators. By the time the race finished, we were able to make our way up front to the barrier and have an unobscured view.
We eventually made our way along the Champs-Élysées to see the awards presentation. It took some time to maneuver our way around the crowd, but we were able to catch the ceremony alongside numerous Danish fans who were celebrating the win of the Tour by their countryman, Jonas Vingegaard.
As the sun started to set over Paris and this year’s Tour, with another amazing Tour in the books, were we happy to get this opportunity to witness this incredible event – Vive le Tour!