‘Rest day’ – it’s a misnomer if you’re a fanatic; but you could do one interview then hang out, I guess?
But if you’re like us, confirmed saddos, then it’s a great opportunity to get a lot of talking and snapping done.
Albeit on rest days you can linger a bit longer over breakfast – which is nice in a week of always having to be somewhere/do something right now or in five minutes.
Our Suisse digs were good, if expensive, but the lassies who ran it were friendly and late night “pieces” [sandwiches, to our non-Scottish readers!] and beer were no bother to them and a godsend to us.
We’d arranged to meet the up and coming Trek sprinter, Edward Theuns on the rest day but unfortunately he crashed out.
Never letting an opportunity go past however, we asked our Trek contact if we could get an interview with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner, Jasper Stuyven.
Jumping clear from a day long break Stuyven was just a few hundred metres away from grabbing the maillot jaune on Stage Two but was hunted down by Kreuziger for Sagan within sight of the line.
His consolation was the climbers’ jersey but he was telling us that it still bugs he missed the mailot jaune by so little.
I was thinking he’d perhaps be a wee bit arrogant, some of the young Belgian guys can be – they’re being told they’re stars from when they’re kids.
And Stuyven was world junior road race champion and has a Grand Tour stage win and a semi-classic under his belt already.
But not a bit of it with Jasper; bang on time, polite, genial and with perfect English.
A real professional – and just 24 years-old.
The hotel was hoatching with riders, management,press and hangers-on – all as it should be.
Next up was a chat with sprint revelation Dan McLay; four top ten results in the frenzied finishes and a third place where he was closing Kittel and Cavendish down rapid.
Whilst Jasper isn’t in the slightest bit, ‘big heided’ he does have that aura the best boys do – self confident, walking tall. Dan’s cool, but still you can tell it’s all a bit new and bamboozling to him; “am I really on the verge of being a BIG rider?”
But he has an endearing manner, self-effacing and good humoured.
His Fortuneo (that’s a bank) Vital Concept (a business in Britanny) team may ‘only’ be pro continental but it would be hard to tell it apart from a World Tour outfit.
The vehicles – including mobile kitchen – bikes and presentation are well up there with the big boys.
Their LOOK’s are a bit of an acquired taste with the head tube running up to meet the extension.
As with their track bikes there’s little doubt they’ll be rigid and aero – but for me the aero thing rather loses meaning when they install the ‘junction box’ for the electronic gears below the stem.
It’s like something a Virgin Broadband engineer would screw onto your skirting board and you’d then try to hide with the curtains.
LOOK also have their own unique chainset; carbon, one-piece and according to Look the most rigid in the peloton.
The team race on American Classic wheelsets; the company was set up by Bill Shook and his partner Ellen Kast.
They live, sleep, eat, breath wheels – want to know why you should go tubeless?
Want to talk aerodynamics?
And Bill still maintains that for road racing a pair of his aluminium rims built on to his hubs with his Sandvik spokes takes a bit of beating – cheaper, lighter, faster and with better braking than carbon.
Indeed, at Het Nieuwsblad in teh spring you’ll still see many a hand-built, aloominum-rimmed wheel.
David Millar ‘was in the Fortuneo house’, looking cool and much more relaxed than he ever did as a rider – but that’s normal; no more cols and cross winds…
And as we jumped in the car to head off we realised how honoured we were to have chosen that spot – right next to Trickie Dickie.
Mountains today and we have the parcours to drive, tell you about it it tomorrow.