I'm pasting this text of a friend's encounter with the tour during the rest day from Facebook...links and photos are private so instead of linking to the post, I've cut/pasted it here...its too cool not to share: Why cycling is the greatest spectator sport (or: how I had lunch with the world champion). July 17, 2014 at 9:09am When I arrived in Besancon for the Tour's rest day, I had a couple of options. I thought I could bike around town and just look for team buses - probably a massive longshot. If I found any, what would I do? If I saw any riders, what would I say? But also I had read in Vélo magazine suggestions for things to do if you were a cyclist visiting Besançon. One was to head out of town on the cycling path along the river Doubs to a tiny town called Avanne. The town has a small bistro right on the water with a terrace, and the owner is a huge cycling fan and goes out of his way to accommodate cyclists. I pretty much struck out biking around town and trying to find team buses or caravan vehicles, and I just figured a ride along the river to this bistrot would be cool all by itself. When I got there the owner was out front speaking with random cyclists on the path. When I stopped it was 11 so I knew he wouldn't be serving food yet, but he welcomed me and showed me where people put their bikes. He gave me a killer table outside looking over the whole terrace and right by the door (anyone entering the terrace would have to walk right by me). I was going over maps and found out that Avanne was actually on the Tour route the next day and on the way to Arbois where I was staying. Score! I would just have lunch and bike to the hotel in Arbois. So I just got a beer and kicked it until they were ready to serve lunch. After 20 minutes or so I hear people coming down the hall towards the terrace - the tick-tack of the shoes identifyinig the newcomers as cyclists. The first guy through the door was decked out in FDJ (Française des Jeux) kit. He looked killer strong, but all skinny-french-cycling dudes pretty much look the same. He calmly said bonjour to me as he went by. I responded in kind. Then came another....then another...then another... everyone decked out in FDJ kit and looking outrageously strong. At this point the look on my face brought a smile from the last guy through the door. It was the FDJ team (including the French champion - Arnaud Démare) getting a workout on the rest day. THe owner seated them in a secluded spot on the terrace and laughed at me as he walked by. I pointed at the riders, and he nodded. All I could think was, how could I possibly be bold enough to get a souvenir/photo/autograph without being rude or pushy. I didn't think I could dare interrupt them and ask for a photo. The owner brought out something for them that looked like massive gaufres (waffles) with whipped cream. They laughed hysterically as he arrived. So I'm sitting there, and it occurs to me that I have all my gear with me, and therefore I have my Vélo magazine with the article featuring the FDJ team and the cycling 'technology center' in Besançon. I went out to my bike and there were all their bikes lined up in a row next to mine. I had to take a picture of that. Edit: (His is the one to the right of the the trailer...and he's riding with the trailer ahead of the tour for about a week...he's also been on TV a few times in the past week with the puffy american hat and american BMC jersey...pretty cool to see someone you know halfway around the world multiple times on TV) I brought the magazine back to my table - stealing a pen from the bar along the way. I opened it up to the full page spread with Thibaut Pinot and Arthur Vichot's pictures, and I put it on the edge of the table facing out where they would have to walk by as they left. It was only another 15 minutes maybe before they got up to leave, and I braced myself. As they walked by I asked them if they wouldn't mind signing, and they all did. I just kept saying 'c'est très très gentil' (it's very, very nice of you) and 'merçi beaucoup' over and over. One of the last guys was smiling at me. Unfortunately I don't know their faces well enought to know who it was, but I said 'encroyable' under my breath, and he responded with a laugh and in a heavy french accent said 'incredible' and made his buddies laugh. After they left, the owner came by and saw what I had done and asked if they had signed my magazine. Even he seemed surprised they had come by. So, deep breath, pinching myself and not believing my good fortune, they brought me my lunch, and I dug in (4 courses for 12 euros, by the way). FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER... tick-tack, tick-tack. A guy walks onto the terrace in full Lampre gear...and another, and another - one guy is in the world champion's jersey (Rui Costa), and another guy is in another jersey I don't recognize - with the Lampre logo but funky colors. The next time the owner sees me, he's just laughing at the look on my face. He tells me it's the Portuguese champion, Nelson Oliveira. When they sit down, they are near a table with some cyclists way bolder than I am who get their pictures taken with them. The boldest I could be was to take a picture of them with the guys who were getting their pictures taken. When I got back to my table, I found the Lampre team page in my magazine and left it open facing the door in the same way. When they left they all signed. (If I may, let me say here that the FDJ riders were way nicer and more polite). The next time the owner came out to the terrace I said the line I had spent 10 minutes preparing for him - 'Vous comprenez que je ne bougerais pas maintentant' (You understand I am not moving now). As I left, I explained to the owner that because the whole experience was so amazing I needed to have a picture of him, his wife, and his servers - one of whom was this really sweet Sri Lankan guy who spoke perfect english. The owner presented me with the Lampre cycling cap that they had apparently given him. I went on to have a lovely ride in the Franche-Comté countryside and arrive at my hotel a few hours later. Sorry if it's awfully pretentious to post something like this. I guess I felt like sharing just to explain my passion and love for the Tour de France and how now it's even more permanent. Maybe it's also to say how much I'm learning that a little bit of extra effort can produce massive rewards - not always of course. A smarter guy once told me - if you do nothing, you can be sure nothing will happen. End of Paste. I both like and hate this sonuvabitch right now...off to the garage trainer to watch today's stage...even though I know what happens.