The tour was over, and we took our positions in the grandstand at the Champs Elysees and waited for the riders to come through.
It turned into a long afternoon in the sun, and with few options for refreshments close by, the natives were restless. We had a big screen on which to watch the action... though 'action' is quite a loose term when applied to the last day of the Tour de France. It is more like a procession than a race, and the yellow jersey holder sips champagne as they cruise through the Paris countryside.
Gert Steegmans took the sprint stage victory for Team Quick Step. The presentations were made to the jersey holders:
- Carlos Sastre - Yellow Jersey
- Oscar Freire - Green Sprinters Jersey
- Bernard Kohl - Polka Dot King of the Mountain Jersey
- Andy Schleck - White Young Rider Jersey
- CSC - Team
We waited for all of these presentations to be made to await the parade of teams. We gave all the riders cheers, especially the Aussies. It was awesome to see Stuart O'Grady enjoying his team's success.
Finally, Silence-Lotto entered the Champs Elysees. Few other spectators remained as the Silence team passed the Aussie bay of the grandstand to an enormous cheer.
I didn't care who else was there. It was important to me to wait and give Cadel a huge cheer for his efforts. As a nation we Australians are fickle, and quick to dismiss our countrymen that fail to live up to the lofty expectations we burden them with. Cadel in particular seems to be his own toughest critic, and although I would have loved to be seeing him in yellow at that moment, as far as I am concerned he still did himself and his country proud.