Souillac is situated between Sarlat and Rocamadour in the department of Lot in south-west France and was one of the towns traversed by the riders of the 99th edition of the Tour de France on July 20 during Stage 18.

Tour de France 2012, Stage 18 in Souillac, Sponsors

On that day the 153 remaining riders  covered 222,5km from Blagnac-Toulouse to Brive la Gaillarde.

The stage was essentially flat with only four climbs (Côte de Saint-Georges, Cahors , Souillac and Lissac-sur-Couze).

Riders had gone through three weeks of racing and 14 teams had not had a stage win, so the pressure for doing well on this stage was quite high.

The stage started fast as it took only 21 kilometres for an escape group to form, but at the 120 kilometres mark a dog ran across the road causing a crash in the peloton involving the riders Gilbert (BMC), Menchov (KAT), Farrar (GRS) and Vichot (FDJ) who fortunately were not injured and were able to ride again.

Lead group with the Green Jersey and the Polka-Dot Jersey

The first attack from the front runners came from David Millar (GRS) with 43 kilometres to go but he was caught up. The escapees had an advantage of just 1’35” with 37km to go and Millar was credited as the rider who did the most work at the front of the escape.

All the riders gave their most but despite all their effort Cavendish (SKY), who had received a perfect lead-out from Bradley Wiggins and his other teammates, started an amazing sprint 300 metres from the line and gave his team a 4th stage win in the Tour de France 2012.

Wiggins ended 19th.

Tour de France, parade of the sponsors known as Caravane du Tour de France
Tour de France, parade of the sponsors known as Caravane du Tour de France

The Tour de France always has the same magic, no matter if you are interested or not in biking as it is not only a major sport event but a cultural one.

Its popularity seems to cross the borders as more and more foreign riders win it. Locals and holiday makers arrive hours in advance to get the best place along the roads and patiently wait for hours to see their champion and the other riders run past like rockets!

The attention goes up one notch or two as soon as the helicopter that follows the riders is heard and seen in the sky…they are just round the corner…

Cameras are ready and everyone starts shooting or recording.

The spectacle lasts only a few minutes then it is all over…but it is worth every minute!
The show is not only with the riders but also with the Sponsors’ Caravane which precedes the riders by about an hour.

It seems to improve year by year as the sponsors compete for ideas and ingenuity to produce the finest decoration for their cars.

The crowds eagerly await the distribution of gadgets and gifts that are thrown from the cars.

Caravane du Tour de France: Sponsors parading and throwing gadgets and mini gifts to the crowds
Tour de France: Sponsors parading and throwing gadgets and mini gifts to the crowds

Everyone takes to the game, children and adults, and engage in a true scuffle to grab the goodies in mid-air!

Vittel, the official water of the Tour, always parades last and traditionally sprays the spectators with water. It is great fun and everyone expects it, and it can be quite welcome on a sunny and hot day!

It is always very amusing to watch the faces of those who return home with a wealth of gifts!

2012 was the 99th edition of the Tour de France, a major annual cycling event which was first staged in 1903 and which covers over 3600 kilometres in 21 days.

Parade of the sponsors...
Parade of the sponsors, PMU.FR the official sponsor of the Green Jersey

This year event It started with the Prologue on Saturday, June 30 – 6.4 kilometres Liège-Liège.

The riders started Stage 1 on Sunday, July 1 – 198 kilometres from Liège to Seraing and ended with Stage 20 on Sunday, July 22 – 120 kilometres from Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Élysées.

Stage 18 day’s winner was Cavendish (SKY) , the Yellow Jersey Braddley Wiggins (SKY), Green Jersey Sagan (LIQ), Polka-Dot Jersey Voeckler (EUC) and White Jersey Van Garde (BMC).

The overall individual winner of the Tour de France 2012 was Bradley Wiggins (SKY), the first ever British winner of the event, and Cavendish won his fourth successive victory in Paris!

The first French was Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), the youngest rider in the Tour 2012 -20 year old- who qualified for the 10th place in the general classification. A young rider to follow closely next year…during the 100th edition!


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About the author

I am French Parisienne and lived in Asia for nearly 20 years before settling in the UK 3 years ago. I have an interest in everything and every culture and am an avid reader. French linguistics is my "specialty" but I have a passion for history and try to mingle them. Humour is very important to me, I love writing, talking, laughing, exchanging ideas, learning more from others... the world is full of fascinating people! I never leave my home without my camera, there is always something unusual, beautiful or strange to capture. I like to pay attention to details, to the world of the "small", a parallel world if you take the time to look for it...And above all, I love my country of birth, France.