Sunday, 10:30 am en route from Périgueux to Paris and Vincenzo’s confirmation as Emperor of France and joining the elite club of riders who have won all three Grand Tours: Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Alberto Contador.
We won’t get into any debates about what would have happened had Contador and Froome stayed the course – they were both DNF, period.
Vincenzo won the race and did so in dominant but not greedy style.
‘But what of yesterday ?’ I hear you say.
We stayed in palatial digs on Friday night – Pez, who picks up the bills for our Tour adventure did a reciprocal deal with VeloVacations.com where the company gets advertising and we get digs.
And very nice they were – a chateau in the middle of Bordeaux’s finest vineyards.
Chris Gutowski runs the tours for Americans who appreciate fine food, wine and countryside – with a bit of Tour watching in there, too.
First mission yesterday was to have a good look at the chrono hardware on display.
There’s a dazzling amount of tech on display from Canyon, Pinarello and the rest – it’s hard to keep up with the manufacturers’ claims and to get your mind round what’s the best solution.
Concealed front brakes, for example are a confusing one – whilst Trek’s Speed Concept conceals the mechanisms within the fork blades, which is perhaps the optimal solution, the likes of Giant and Ridley have the brakes behind the fork crown.
The problem with this is that after the air has flowed round the front of the blades, instead of cleanly flowing of the back, in meets the brake and there’s turbulence caused.
Meanwhile, Garmin have Magura hydraulic brakes mounted on the front of the crown – with the biggest advert for brakes in front of the crown coming from Tony Martin, who’s Specialized Shiv totes a front centre-pull.
On the subject of concealed brakes, some of the cable runs are so convoluted that brake operation is anything but smooth and leave you shaking your head at the ‘mushy’ action.
Our favourite machines of the day would have to be Tony’s Shiv complete with new ‘Taurean’ paint job to match his star.
He runs his habitual 58 ring with a long cage on the derailleur so as he can use it in conjunction with the big 28/29 tooth cogs at the rear.
On the subject of cranks, Campagnolo and Vision now offer ‘Star Wars’ bulbous carbon jobs – they look fast…
Saddles get ever smaller and harsher on the eye – but ‘rules is rules’ I guess !
Our other fave is the new Bianchi Aquila as ridden in the time test ny Messrs. Ten Dam & Mollema at Belkin.
It’s very sleek and purposeful and just looks quick standing still.
Some of the warm up routines the riders do here in Périgueux are savage – GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke looked as if he’d just finished a kilometre.
Ice vests are still the thing at Belkin but Movistar are old school and simply found a sheltered spot for their boys to warm up below a canopy.
If you’re a star there’s no day off from interviews on the TT day, here Rodriguez answers the same old questions.
And if you’re a mechanic, it’s a busy one as riders’ try to find those extra two watts a more aero position will give them.
The course was a tough one, rolling north through the Dordogne Valley – no drag strip but not a mountain TT either.
The day was scorching with a cooling breeze coming and going throughout the afternoon.
We couldn’t follow a rider because you needed your British Cycling license with you to confirm that the relevant insurances were in place – of course, no one told us that until the day before the race.
We were at the foot of the final climb and there was a real contrast of styles on display – most, including Johan Van Summeren and eventual third Jan Barta, were out of the saddle, stamping on it.
Not Tony; he was seated, in the crouch with the pain turned up to 11 – very impressive.
Not everyone was ‘full gas’ – Vasili Kiryienka for instance was just ‘getting roond’ as best he could – but in fairness, the man earned his wages at Sky, and then some.
There was the obligatory imbecile in mankini – but on the whole the crowd where we stood were well behaved and knowledgeable.
We had to bolt before the ‘Bigs’ passed – much as we’d have loved to watch Vincenzo flash past, in jaune – we had many rivers to cross before Sunday lunchtime as well as pictures and words to organise not to mention digs to find.
The wi-fi in the Campanile in Périgueux we stopped at was dire, ok for looking at web pages and email but not for sending pictures – which took, literally hours.
But eventually we got them all away – sitting with the laptop at our meal table.
And now the sun shines, Radio Nostalgi has Gloria Gaynor at her best and we’re on the last lap to Paris.