Montpellier

Bonjour from Colmar! A couple of unrelated items first: I just noticed that the Rolex ad on the back of yesterday’s L’Equipe is a picture of Turnberry, with Ailsa Craig in the background – ah! the Auld Country!

The footwear of choice for Tour journos this year is ‘basies,’ as we used to call them – baseball boots; I’m gonna stick with my deck shoes.

Vosges Matin, the local paper, has a Tour pull out, all the riders, all the stages and with a great pic of Sorensen, winning in Vittel, yesterday – the French do embrace the race.

Right, we’ll try some joined-up stuff.

The smell of the bakeries in Vittel this morning was wonderful, as Martin and I ambled round to find the team buses.

Colmar
Ale looked cool at the start, as usual. Photo©Martin Williamson

But first, we took 10 minutes to watch the publicity caravan roll out; you would have to be really cynical not to manage a smile for the caravan.

We had four goals today: interview Tyler Farrar; get the DS’s opinions on what could and should have been a turning point in the race; watch the race live on the last climb and give Charly Wegelius his wedding present, a bottle of Drambuie.

Tyler is a joy to talk to, polite, lucid and insightful – that was an easy job.

Colmar
As they say on “The Fast Show”, Tyler is a “good guy”. Photo©Martin Williamson

We caught up with Charly, he larked about, trying to put the Drambuie in his Canyon’s bottle cage – the TV crews appeared, as if by magic; “do that again, Charly!”

Talking to the DS’s was cool, especially Konyshev – a legend.

He was second to Lemond in the Worlds, 20 years ago and still winning pro races up until a year or two ago.

Colmar
Most of the DS’s thought today would see a shake-up, but Dimi was spot-on: ‘nothing will change’. Photo©Martin Williamson

Jobs done, we headed off to drive the course.

It was wet, twisting, turning in the early part with savage climbs from half distance onwards – hard to imagine that it wouldn’t be a decisive stage…

I’ll give you one fact that sums this day up – 6th Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team; yes the “built like a hoose-end” sprinter.

As Dave texted me, “they’re riding like it’s a sportif!”

Colmar
The focus is on Nocentini, who must be thanking his lucky starts that the GC contenders seem to be scared to attack Astana. Was it Shakespeare who said “A brave man dies but once, a coward many times”? Photo©Ed Hood

Haussler’s performance was excellent; but the GC bonfire is proving reluctant to catch light.

Colmar
One happy German, er, Australian.

We’ve ranted about it before, but it looks like ASO have not got it right with the “final Saturday up the Ventoux” ploy.

Jonathan Vaughters told us today that Garmin will be defending up until the final TT, next Thursday.

Colmar
JV had time to chat, and Frankie Andreu asked after you, Brian. Photo©Martin Williamson

A “baroudeur’s” stage, tomorrow – maybe a sprinters; but that depends how mad Cav is about Hushovd snaffling the green jersey.

OK, time to watch le Tour on German Eurosport – why German?

Tell you tomorrow.

Ciao, ciao.

Colmar
Tour 09 Stage 13 Map.
Colmar
Tour 09 Stage 13 Profile.

* * *

Al Hamilton

Batalla en los Vosgos

I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of AS this morning so had to make do with Marca.

They lead with today’s battle in the Vosges mountains; there are many riders who say they will be attacking on the roads to Colmar. Alberto Contador is expecting attacks, but said it was up to the others, he would be waiting.

Colmar
Martin and Ed think they might have been at the wrong race, only seeing a few boys battling today, and lots of laughing and chatting as the three big groups went past on the last climb, the Firstplan.

The big problem for all the riders could be the weather as “tormentas, frio y viento” (heavy rain, cold and wind) has been predicted for the stage.

Armstrong is saying “it could be a shit stage with many difficulties, lots of attacks from rivals and a crisis in my team on the final climb. We will have to analyse the situations as they arise”.

Es una de las etapas más duras y decisivas del Tour” (this is one of the hardest and decisive stages of the Tour) said Giovanni Lombardi, the manager of the Schlecks.

The Devil gets his photo right in the centre of the report, which shows there wasn’t much to say about yesterday’s stage to Vittel. “Pellizotti, a bone for Egoi” refers to the chase for mountains points which enlivened the breakaway as Marca puts it, “making a beautiful pulse in the hills”, but the quote of the day has to be the jump of Nicki Sörensen, “like a cat out of water”.

Colmar
Banzai!

“’Banzai’ hacia Paris”. Historic, two Japanese riders might finish the Tour for the first time ever! Tomoharu Masuda, producer of J-Sport, the TV channel that retransmits the Tour in Japan says “there are many young road cyclists in Japan”.

“Contador no quiere ‘gorilas’” Alberto does not agree to Lance having three “gorilas” bodyguards with him. The madrileño (Contador) is simply a cyclist, not a person of fiction or a Hollywood artist.

Colmar
They do keep picking away at each other, do these “teammates”.

So that’s today’s news through the eyes of Spanish sports daily; Marca.

Hasta mañana, Al.