It is 12:45 p.m. and the fictitious start is given this Sunday at La Verrière. The 154 Paris-Nice riders set off from the city center for the first stage of the cycling race. All cameras, all cycling enthusiasts have their eyes on this town of 6,000 inhabitants located between Versailles and Rambouillet.
Boumhamed, who came from the neighboring district, does not hide his pride. “We talk about La Verrière on TV, on the radio, it’s really an honor for us, slips this father. I don’t know much about it but I like the atmosphere. It’s nice for a Sunday outing. »
The Race to the Sun also attracts enthusiasts from all over the Paris region and nearby provinces. Stuck behind the barriers that separate him from the parade of stars of the day, Matthieu arrives from Beauvais (Oise). He’s a fan from the start who never misses a start. “I slept with family members who live near Versailles to be there this morning. It’s an opportunity to meet cycling stars like Arnaud Démare, whom I really appreciate. He has a chance to win a stage. In addition, there are not too many people, we can be quite close to them. »
A selfie with the winner of the Tour
You have to sneak between brandished phones, between the almost hysterical fans who pass from one side or the other to photograph the long-awaited rider, between those who await the selfie with Jonas Vingegaard, winner of the Tour de France 2022, he we have to weave through all this passionate crowd before crossing Émile and Arlette. We don’t do better than these two septuagenarians to illustrate the degree of passion that cycling triggers.
This couple from Eure follows the Paris-Nice in… motorhome. He started around ten years ago and since then has traveled across France and Europe with the various pelotons. “We are going to Nice. We did the tour of Italy, it was splendid, the Paris-Roubaix, too, which is our preference. We travel a lot in fact, smile the two lovers. This is an opportunity to meet lots of people. This morning, a lady kindly offered to park our motorhome in her yard. She offered us coffee, we brought her flowers. »
As he speaks, Émile glances at the pros who file by slowly, spelling out each name in a low voice. He is a cycling encyclopedia, an expert who knows everything about cycling. He and his wife will be in Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne) this Monday, which welcomes the arrival of the second stage, which started at midday from Bazainville, a village in the north-west of Yvelines. And they will continue like this until March 12, for the final stage scheduled on the Promenade des Anglais.