It’s like a parting the waves as the leading group pedals hard up the stage climbs. The fans have been up early to cycle or hike to the roadside to grab a spot. The circus has been through. The gendarmes try to hold the crowd back, but they have re-grouped after letting the course car, spare neutral bikes and the first posse of gendarme and press motorbike riders through. Holding up their mobile phones, flags and posters, they ripple back as the riders, team cars and motorcycles go through.
Every once in a while a maverick will chase the riders up the climb. The more reckless (strangely often dressed in a mankini) will run in front of the motorbikes hoping to be caught on camera.
This painting is to celebrate Warren Barguil who became the first Frenchman to win a Tour de France stage on Bastille Day in twelve years. It was the shortest road stage with three climbs. It was lucky Stage 13 for the Team Sunweb rider as he held off Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa in the final straight. The first stage win of his Tour career.
A case of earning your spots rather than your stripes, Barguil had been wearing the distinctive jersey, Maillot a Pois or King of Mountains, since he first claimed it on Stage 9 and held on to it. By the time he won Stage 18 his nearest KOM rival could not make up the points lead he had opened up. He was tenth in the overall GC classification. His tenacity and push saw him also hold the Combativity Award for 2017.
Sadly he was dropped by Team Sunweb during the subsequent Vuelta over alleged differences on tactics.
Parting the Waves. Acrylic painting on linen canvas 80 x 60 cm.