Away from the features, the research, the long drives, writing diaries like this one, there's one part of my day that always stands above. The scramble at the finish.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

It's a blur of sound and colour. The crackle of french voices on the loudspeaker. An obscured view of a monitor displaying the final few kilometres of racing. An eager press pack.

There's nothing quite like it. Pure adrenalin. The collective feeling of every single reporter, wondering how best to position themselves, and which rider they're about to target. An atmosphere that's replicated every single day.

How quickly will they pass?

Will they go straight to the bus?

Is that rider likely to talk after the day he's had?

Without a plan, even a vague one, you're lost. The finish is too chaotic for pause. You see someone, you go.

Of course while a hundred different thoughts, possible questions, angles, stream through your mind, you're trying to keep abreast of the race situation. More often than not, you know, very little as the riders pass through the finish. Once or twice I've even been confused who had won. Was that a black and white jersey, or a blue, and white, or was it a green, black and white. Belkin, Orica, NetApp, Giant-Shimano?

Good luck.

There's an intensity to the immediate exchanges, too. You have to understand that riders aren't just coming in from a stroll around France - they've just completed a Tour stage, are completely spent, likely breathless, and the last thing they want to do is talk to the media.

I'm sure I'd be the same.

And yet for us, it's the ideal time, to snag a grab. The emotion fresh, the sweat on the brow barely dry. Tell us what you really think. Raw is always better than rehearsed.

A simple "How was that?", or "Happy with your ride" might be all you get in before someone flashes past. Some stop, rarely, although certain riders are better than others in this regard. From a television perspective even a garbled sentence might be all you need. Nobody else has that, and it's more than likely better than the clichés you're likely to get at the buses.

Understandably, frustratingly, most opt for the sanctuary of the team bus before they'll even think about answering a question.

Richie Porte prefers to get to the bus and jump on the trainer and hold court as he warms down.

Simon Gerrans won't do anything until he's had a shower.

Mick Rogers will always give you time even he's had a shocker.

The swarm waits, attentively.

For Andrew Talansky after Stage 11 we waited nearly an hour, but he did, thankfully front the press, even after the brutality, and courage of his performance to make the time cut.

There, with such a premium on what was time for two questions, the press pack cannibalises itself. Friends, raise elbows, cameras clash, and arguments erupt. People you think you can trust, obscure your shot. Others, ambitious-types try to jump in for questions first - shouting, I can add, is not a good way to get a question across, or to quell those around you.

And then, as the buses close up shop for the day, the riders retreat once more, and the day ends, the camaraderie returns. Apologies are passed on. We start again. A day in the life.

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One quick note, the last few days have seen us finally get some sun, and with it, I've gone from a pasty British white to a Mediterranean brown, and pink, and red. I'm not sure which I honestly prefer, the sleeting rain on the cobbles of Northern France or the relentlessness of the sun, beating down. Probably the latter. Certainly nicer in the evenings. We had a great dinner in Bourg-en-Bresse, the other night, under the lingering twilight. We've all found a groove. It's working well. And we've yet to hit the Alpes or Pyrenees.

And an update on the official creme brûlée stakes, we have a new leader. Besançon has rallied to the front with a 4/5 effort. Better custard, a crisper top, and a more or less equivalent custard puts it ahead of Douai. But the battle is far from over. Until next time.