What a buzz around the Tour de France in London. I'd thought I wouldn't bother, but it's not as though it's going to happen here often, even with Mayor Ken's endless round of circuses for us plebs. So I went to play with my camera (some results below) at the publicity parade and for the official start, since Greenwich is so close to home.
It was great fun to see the French touches (a gendarme motard in the advance guard of the start riding along "no hands" while he adjusted his gloves) and hear some characteristically French horn-hooting on an English weekend. Plus, I think people were all a bit dazzled by the sudden return of that strange yellow thing in the sky..
for all the local emphasis on getting people cycling (a rather desperate-sounding loudspeaker appeal in the publicity parade to Keep Biking! as though we were all about to wobble into a lamp-post), the Tour looks more like a bloated motor rally. And as commercialisation has overtaken professionalism - well, let's just say it hasn't done the cyclists' collective reputation any favours.
But as ever, it's as much about the spectators putting on a show for each other as about the reality of what they're watching, and by all accounts we've all done very well. Here's what the Sunday morning looked like at Greenwich: