I managed to watch all 3 Alps stages and the Time Trial in Annecy (as well as the earlier stages) this year and all of them were awesome in a different way. I was following it around in my little VW Golf TDI which was a great car, perfect for the tight mountain roads and I got about 900km from a tank of fuel so thats always good.

Stage 15 – Verbier
Today was set to be a big day, it was one of only 2 mountain top finishes left and with a lot of riders down on time this was going to have to be where they made their move, including Contador over Lance. I drove to the town of Martigny which is at the base of the climb to Verbier and parked the car in one of the thousands of spots they had already setup for everyone in paddocks. Walked up the climb about 7km to a spot just before the 2km to go. Had about 5 hours to kill before the riders came. Got CRAZY busy by the time they came around and I was worried I wouldnt be able to get any photos it was that crowded. First rider to come was no real surprise, it was Contador. He absolutely FLEW past it was unbelievable. Next group was Lances and I stuffed up the photo completely and quickly deleted it. Made the long walk back to the car and drove back to my hotel and had maccas for dinner as its next door. The whole day went from 8:30am to 9:30pm.

Stage 16 – Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard
Today was a bit harder, I had to drive to the town that was hosting the finish and then drive around all their road blocks (thankgod for GPS) until I got back onto the road they were going to be riding down and drive up as far as they were letting people go and park there. Turns out it was quite far and there was like a 8km walk to the summit (which was actually the France/Italy border) and then a short walk down the other side to find a spot to watch. Was pretty hungry so bought 2 ‘hotdogs’. They were pork sausages on baguettes. THIS IS NOT A HOTDOG OK FRANCE SLASH ITALY. So yea anyways ate them with caution and walked down about 500m to a spot. Once again it got pretty hektik by the time the riders were to come around. Because of the long run in to the finish after the climb the yellow jersey group was quite large so the stage wasnt as interesting as the others, but still worth it. Getting home was a complete shit fight though. I walked the entire way back to my car faster than the cars that were trying to drive down. Also my GPS told me to go home via the Mt Blanc tunnel. Little did I know it FREAKING COST 33 EUROS and I couldnt turn around. Its a sweet 11km tunnel but god damn if I knew it cost that I would have gone a different way. The whole day went from 8:00am to 10:00pm.

Stage 17 – Col de la Colombiere
Today was ummm very up and down, and not just the stages profile. Did the same thing as yesterday, drove to the finish town and slowly drove up as high as I could and parked. The walk wasnt really that bad, probably about 6km to the top and then just a bit further down to a place to watch. I got there about 5 hours before the riders were to come so quite a long wait. So then of course it decided to pour rain, on and off for about 3 hours. Fantastic. Then quite possibly the worst thing ive ever seen in my life happened. Guy sitting in front of me slipped on the other side of the concrete barrier on the side of the road and fell about 30m down an extremely steep rocky hill. Hit his head about half way down and was knocked unconscious and just rag dolled the rest of the way. Police and ambos were on the scene pretty quick and a helicopter arrived for a full on evacuation about 30mins later. Pretty sure he lived so thats good. So back to the racing, the first 3 riders up were the Schlecks and Contador. I didnt know it at the time but the Schlecks had been attacking Contador the whole climb and Contador didnt even seem in trouble in the slightest. Got a crackin photo of the 3 of them in a row. Next up was Kloden and then Lance a bit later who I actually managed to get a photo of this time. The rest of the riders came and went and then it was time to walk back to the door and try and drive home. The whole day went from 8:00am to 9:00pm.

Stage 18 – Annecy
The second last time any contenders could make up time would be in todays time trial so the guys were definately going to be flying. Drove to Annecy and drove up to roadblock after roadblock just getting denied entry everywhere even remotely close to the course. Hit up the GPS to drive to a different section of the course and got to a parking area about 5km from the course so that was good. Walked along until I got to a great spot just down from the top of the Cat 3 climb. The whole day was damn hot and there was no real shade anywhere so while the bottom riders were still coming I just chilled under someones caravan shade cloth, didnt really mind missing out on those riders. Took pics of about the last 20 riders (who are the top 20 in the race) and got wicked ones of Evans, Kloden, Lance, the Schlecks and Contador. Walked back to car and about half way it pours down rain which sucked. Surprisingly I got back to my hotel by 7pm which was the earliest of any stage I think ive ever been to.

And thats pretty much it, apart from the last stage in Paris thats two Tours down for me now and probably wont be the last. This years was pretty successful and was fantastic to watch Team Astana and Lance racing. Lance announced the other day that hes heading up a new american team and will be racing the 2010 Tour so hey I might be back next year who knows.