Around noon on July 3, 2013, the 5th stage of the 100th Tour de France, the world's most famous bicycle race, passed through Biot, France, Tacoma's new sister city. -- When Biot's mayor, Jean-Pierre Dermit, happened to discover on the Internet that one of the Tour's leading riders, 24-year-old Tejay van Garderen, was born in Tacoma, he decided to organize a special welcome for Tacoma's native son. -- (Van Garderen now lives in Lucca, in Tuscany, Italy.) -- Nice-Matin published an unsigned article on the event, translated below.
[Translated from Nice-Matin (France)]
TODAY, THE CARAVAN PASSES
** In Antibes, Biot, and Valbonne thousands will crowd the side of the road to see the Tour de France riders. A must-see event **
July 3, 2013
It's finally here. Today's the day. For the first time in its history, the Tour de France will pass through Biot and Valbonne. Turning off the seaside road at Antibes, near La Siesta and Marineland.
As you can imagine, thousands of spectators will gather to see the riders go by and to share a brief -- but intense -- moment of happiness with them. So happy Tour to everybody. To the participants above all. But to the public as well.
TEJAY VAN GARDEREN -- THE BIOT STAGE'S SIBLING
This morning all of Biot will be behind Tejay van Garderen, the BMC Racing Team's American rider. [NOTE: BMC is a Swiss-based bicycle frame manufacturer. --M.K.J.] "I was looking at the record of the rider who finished fifth in last year's Tour and winner of the best young rider classification [NOTE: This is for riders under 26. Van Gaderen is only the third American, after Greg LeMond (1984) and Andrew Hampsten (1986), to achieve this. --M.K.J.], and I realized that he was born in Tacoma, our sister city in the United States. I could hardly believe it," said Jean-Pierre Dermit, mayor of Biot.
To top it off, the BMC Racing Team, like Sojasun and the Movistar Team, two other racing teams, had been staying at the Sophia Country Club for the past two nights. At once the city's Protocol Service set out to find the rider and give him a gift, an artwork by Jean-Claude Novaro. [NOTE: Jean-Claude Novaro, 70, is a leading glass artist who lives and works in Biot; he visited Tacoma with the Biot delegation in October 2012. --M.K.J.] At the same time, four supporters' signs were made.
Arriving in Nice after the time trial, Tejay van Garderen was quite surprised to be welcomed at the hotel and receive a gift: "In fact, I was born in Tacoma but my parents moved away shortly thereafter. I'm very happy at this welcome. I don't know whether I'll have the time to see the signs along the route, that will depend on the speed of the race, but I'm very touched."
The interview only lasted a few minutes: "I've just had my massage, I still have to have dinner and afterwards we're having a briefing to get ready for tomorrow's (i.e. today's) stage. Thank you for everything."
This morning the residents of Biot will have eyes only for Number 39. "So far I have a good feeling." Yesterday, van Garderen clocked in only 23 seconds behind the leader. What if he won the Tour?
--Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003