There were sad faces aplenty as the Tour de France left Britain last night, having whipped the nation into a cycling frenzy. After the phenomenal crowds throughout Yorkshire, it was debatable whether London (and Cambridge and Essex) could muster up the same enthusiasm, especially on a weekday. As it turned out, the crowds were as big and noisy as they were for the Olympics two years ago, standing four or five deep through the whole city. Rob Greig fought his way through the media scrum and tried to find a spot to spy on the circus from behind the scenes of the World’s Largest Annual Sporting Event. And yes – he missed the finish.
Even two hours before the peloton arrived, there were people ten deep on the Mall, becoming the focus for the dozens of photographers.
The teams parked up their huge coaches and support vehicles in Horse Guards Parade. Ferrying nine athletes, the medical and technical support takes up a lot of space.
With their dominance over the last two years, and the black livery, Sky’s bus is sometimes referred to as the Death Star.
The Kazakhstan-based Astana team bus, parked up in Horse Guards Parade.
The Gendarmerie took up position in the Mall.
With 45 broadcasters covering the race live, plus dozens of radio stations, the media area stretched for 150 metres alongside the finishing straight.
Moments before the sprinters hurtle across the line, Bernard ‘The Badger’ Hinault parks up at the finish with his passenger, designer Paul Smith.
No, getting into position and elbowing a policeman, two Tour organisers and a BT technician out of the way still doesn’t guarantee you won’t fall over at the vital moment and miss the money shot.
After 155km and almost four hours in the saddle, the riders still had to weave through the throng on their way back to their team buses. Unlike so many other sports, the supporters are far closer and have easy access to beg for water bottles, or unused energy bars from the stars.
The scars of a crash at 50kph for Edward King of the Cannondale Team.
Chris Froome, the winner in 2013, faced questions from TV, Radio and fans alike as the scrum developed around the Sky Team bus.
Hi Dave Brailsford, mastermind of the British Cycling revolution.
Here’s Rod Ellingworth, Sky Performance Manager, with clouds looming as the team set off toward France.
Bike frames were packed up ready for the choppy ride on a ferry to the start in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage.
Vincenzo Nibali of Astana retains the yellow jersey – this one’s for the Kazakh Ambassador no less!
Nibal’s customised bike frame stored away in the bus – his nickname is the Shark.
The Media Centre at the Central Methodist Hall in Westminster two hours after the race finished. Copy was still being filed as the journalists contemplated delays on Eurostar and the Tour setting off to France.
Meanwhile a big crowd surrounded Jose Mourinho, there to support Portuguese World Champion, Rui Costa.
Late into the afternoon and fans are still watching re-runs of the day’s action at the fan parks.
Been bitten by the cycling bug? Take a look at our A-Z guide to cycling in London.