tour_de_france1

There’s a little breeze fluttering the trees, it’s mild at 25 degrees but rain is forecast – chrono day.

The thing about a Tour time trial is that the conditions I have just described might prevail for first starter, at 11:10, F des J’s Belorussian champion and lanterne rouge (now that Kenny has gone home) Yauheni Hutarovich.

But when Bert bumps that Trek down the ramp at 16:47, the conditions could be completely different.

Our game plan today is two fold; drive the course, behind Garmin sprinter, Tyler Farrar, then do a ‘before and after’ on the Big Guns.

It’s 12:40 am now; need to finish this after sleep.

Bon nuit.

Later…

A long but exciting day on Thursday – we did our following car ‘thing’ with Tyler Farrar and then spent all afternoon looking at how the big GC guys fared.

So you think you can time trial? Tyler road at 80%, and did 55kph on the flats!
So you think you can time trial? Tyler rode at 80%, and did 55kph on the flats!

What’s not, is the running around it takes to get the precious “stee-kerr” for the windscreen that enables you to enter the hallowed start area, then follow your rider.

You run around daft, have all sorts of language hurdles to jump; then you meet the right guy, who speaks perfect English, sticks his hand in his pocket – ‘et voila!’

The man you need to know if you want a little yellow sticker - Jean-Michel.
The man you need to know if you want a little yellow sticker – Jean-Michel.

A part of the day I really enjoyed was getting to the start; to get there we had to drive the second part of the course – there’s so much joy, fun, expectation and sheer glad to be alivedness evident.

Lance; for sure he generates interest but for me the minders, the tweeting, the ‘spin’ against Alberto and then, on the day the Spaniard confirms his dominance, to announce his new team – it’s all against the grain.

But I’m 54 and grew up when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Bert's dignity and professionalism are in marked contrast to LA's tweeting, PR, and invideous remarks. Did you notice even Bruyneel doesn't wear Astana gear? It's all Livestrong teeshirts and polemics.
Bert’s dignity and professionalism are in marked contrast to LA’s tweeting, PR, and invideous remarks. Did you notice even Bruyneel doesn’t wear Astana gear? It’s all Livestrong teeshirts and polemics.

Alberto, on the other hand is a pro; as Philippe Brunel says in L’Equipe; “The Spaniard avoids the politics but his gestures are eloquent . . .

In other words, he talks with his pedals.

There’s a photo in L’Equipe which sums it up. Three Astanas warm up on the turbos for the test; one has a Livestrong thing on, one sports an anonymous vest, but only one wears an Astana top – Alberto.

LA warms up for his time trial.
LA warms up for his time trial. (Photo::©MWilliamson/VeloVeritas)

Wiggins, can he make the podium?

Can Wiggins step up to the podium? Today was the day, and we think he might have missed his chance. Can't see him doing the necessary to LA on the Ventoux.
Can Wiggins step up to the podium? Today was the day, and we think he might have missed his chance. Can’t see him doing the necessary to LA on the Ventoux.

Yes, if he does the ride of his life, tomorrow; he’s only nine seconds behind Lance, but in turn, he has Kloden just two seconds behind him, with climbing ace Frank Schleck just 23 seconds down.

Bert took a while to go through dope control, and popped out for more water. I'm told that Peroni is a better diuretic son!
Bert took a while to go through dope control, and popped out for more water. I’m told that Peroni is a better diuretic son!
One of Lance's minders shoved Martin out of his way, to which he was advised some choice Scottish terms.
One of Lance’s minders shoved Martin out of his way, to which he was advised some choice Scottish terms.

It’s all to play for.

We’ve got a stage to go to, so I’ll sign off.

Au demain.

Tour 09 Stage 18 Map.
Tour 09 Stage 18 Map.
Tour 09 Stage 18 Profile.
Tour 09 Stage 18 Profile.

Al Hamilton

The Tour and cycling makes it big on the back page of today’s AS, first Contador is in the good section with congratulated on his securing his victory by taking more time, then in the bad section we have the failure of Armstrong who lost time and fell off the podium and De Luca is also in the bad section with his positive for CERA at the Giro.

AS
Contador will do well to actually have a team who are behind him.

Also on the back page is an argument over why Contador stopped his attack on the Schleck brothers on the last climb yesterday, there is more about this on the inside pages.

AS says: “Heroica etapa que no gan Contador porque Bruyneel le frene”. So the reason he stopped was orders from above!

The attacks had dropped Wiggins, Armstrong and eventually Klöden, but it looks like the time loss of Lance was more important than a stage win or more time in the bank for Alberto?

Bruyneel is leaving Astana at the end of the year, maybe to set up the new “Team Armstrong” which will probably not include Contador, so….

AS 3
Spanish paper AS does a great job of race coverage.

Are you happy with things before the time trial? Contador is asked; “now I have more time between me and Wiggins I have a little more tranquillity.

The time trial in Annecy is long and Klöden and Armstrong are specialists”. Have you won the Tour? “For nothing are the next two days the key, the time trial and Ventoux…I keep my feet on the ground”.

Other quotes: Sastre: “Attacking is my only option”

Nibali: “I collaborated with Lance in the final kilometres; I hope to gain some time in the time trial”:

The President of France, Sarkozy: “Contador is magnificent”.

Bradley Wiggins also thinks he will do well in the time trial; “I hope to recover my place on the podium in Annecy”.

Last bit of news; and if you saw Jens Voigt’s crash you won’t be surprised to hear that the doctor in the Grenoble hospital that treated the German said “the helmet saved his life”.

Just the TT and Ventoux now!

Mañana. Al.