.On Friday morning we have all prepared for the start of the first stage from Annecy Le Vieux to Digne les Baines. There were three starting points, beside Annecy le Vieux also Lugano in Switzerland and Clermont Ferrand in France. All together, we then finished the first stage in Digne les Baines.
The first stage was about 350 kilometers and we had more than 7 hours to complete it. This is why we had enough time to enjoy the ride and the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. And there were many beautiful passes on the way from where we could observe the valleys.
In Digne les Baines we arrived one hour to early. There, we parked in a space where all the others did. There was already gathered a colorful bunch of vehicles. And since we were happy that we finished the first part we went out for coffee and tea, like many others. However, when we returned to the finish, we were unpleasantly surprised. There was panic all around, everybody tried to leave the parking where we were to a neigbouring parking through what we thought was starting line. How wrong we were, it was a finish line. Disaster! And after a while running around and asking others (the majority does not speak English of course) we found this out. But now we were 20 minutes to late. So it was the end of the competition for us before it even truly started.
With a hint of anger and surrender to our destiny we went on the second leg towards Monaco. In this stage there were also the first tests. We had to drive through a defined section with a specified average speed, which is in all sections at around 49 km/h. Here we used the car navigation, which showed the approximate average speed. Most of other drivers was of course equipped with a stopwatch, special devices for measuring average speed and time, etc. Professionals.
Arriving at the very late hours to Monaco. Full of lights, yachts and expensive cars and among them small and economical and environmentally friendly cars.
To the end of the leg in Monaco we got exact on time. So exact that even the judges could not believe it. However, they were “relieved” when they saw that we were very late before at the finish line in Digne.