Quite by accident, we were in France at the time of the Tour de France, that famous annual cycling race. By fluke and mistake, we happened to be in Poitiers, at Futuroscope, the park of the moving image, the day before the Tour started...from Futuroscope. Of course, if we'd known, we would probably have avoided the area. As it turned out, we saw the preparations and were not held up or adversely affected by them, so it was a happy coincidence.
As we drove from Montreille-Bellay to Poitiers, we saw people starting to camp on the side of the roads, in tents and camper vans. When we reached Futuroscope, we found uplink-city as the broadcasters took over part of the car park to prepare for the next day.
The day before the Tour, the teams are all introduced. In 2000, this took the form of the teams gathering in nationality groups, riding around the Futuroscope park, lead by a woman on roller blades and carrying the appropriate flag, and ending up at the outdoor theatre, where son et lumiere are usually shown. This photograph looks across the top of the theatre at the Italian riders across the park.
The weather has improved since earlier and the teams ride across the walkways of the park. Here are the Italians closer to the camera, following the Spanish, and the French already waiting to go on stage.
Some of the paths are quite steep and, while the riders had no fear, they had to help out their rollerskating flag-bearers from time to time - do you think the organisers explained that the job involved skating downhill ?
And, finally, here is the American team. Of course, being woefully ignorant of cycling, I didn't know who Lance Armstrong was so I don't think I got him in shot !