Tag Archive for ‘Le Tour de France 2009’
And now it’s all over; it’s Monday morning and we’re in a cafe at Montmartre – lucky us, I’m taking care to savour the moment.
Even though the coffees are four euros each.
Yesterday was different for us, we decided to be “fans for the day”, the crowd on the circuit was huge, but strangely thin on the Rue de Rivoli. We had a fight to get to what we thought would be a good vantage point – over beside the Seine, on the Quai. However, this year, it was mobbed, there were more policemen than ever getting in the way of the camera (thanks Lance) and it was hard to get good pictures – in the event, I think we did not bad.
Bonjour! Usually I start the VeloVeritas diary in the morning but then have to switch to Pezification for most of the day – going back to poor old VR late in the day, as Martin and I fight off le vieux homme, Morpheus.
But today, you got me all to yourselves – at least until this afternoon, when le Tour hurtles into Paris; with Astana as winner’s (and winning) equipe at it’s head – as tradition dictates.
It’s 9:00 pm and we’re headed for the A7 “Autoroute du Soleil,” and the drive north to Paris. Incidentally, the A7 is one of the most dangerous roads in Europe; so that’s a comfort.
It’s been a day-and-a-half, albeit I think we were all expecting more from the stage. But perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect that men are going to race like demons after three tough weeks around France.
Cervelo: their Tour has been a good one, Haussler and Hushovd have won stages and Thor has made himself a whole load of new fans by the way he has ridden in pursuit of green.
Astana: their Tour has been marvellous – even better than that if you go on the “no such thing as bad publicity principle.”
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.
It had to be an early start, today.
To get down to the Bourg-Saint-Maurice start, we had to drive against a section of race route and decided to get away early to beat the closures.
By the back of 08:00 we were clear of the worrisome section; we grabbed a coffee then made our way down to the start.
Bright sunshine, pretty girls, a free breakfast and a meet with a yeti – what more could you want?
Perhaps I’m going to revise my opinion that l’Equipe’s Tour coverage isn’t as good as the Gazzetta’s Giro coverage.
The Gazzetta looks better, but the L’Equipe goes so deep.
Today, for example, as well as the usual stats, there’s a big analysis of how the stage might pan out, with four options; a table of how Contador has built his lead and – one that Viktor will love – the best and worst descenders.
“Armstrong redescend sur terre,” says the headline in L’Equipe – ‘Armstrong brought back to earth.’
Bert dominates the front page, smiling with his “smoking gun” finger held high – VeloVeritas says; “Chapeau, Bert !”
It was a late start for Martin and I today, but it let us get loose ends tied up and plans made.
I’ve always admired Bradley Wiggins as a pursuiter, but as a roadman, he’s never cut the mustard; the cycling saddo’s bible, ‘Velo’ doesn’t lie about his palmares – it’s not bad, but it’s not amazing.
Today was amazing; he dropped Lance and was driving in front of Nibali and Schleck.
I thought that maybe the Head’s sedate progress through the Pyrenees had been responsible for his exalted GC position – but no, today was a death race with the absolute best on the planet.
“Bonjour,” really that should be the German equivalent there of, but my German is even more limited than my French.
We spent the night in Freiburg – just across the German border, the hotel room is huge, if a tad Spartan; but that didn’t stop us from sleeping like bricks.
It’s very difficult to get digs close to the stage town; best to book around an hour away – which is what we did.
Bonjour! 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.
Ca va ? What does the ‘0’ stand for in 02:30 ? “Oh my God, it’s early!”
Four hours sleep, as Barry White would say; “it’s just not enough!”
It’s 14:19 and we’re on the motorway, near Metz; we just got lost – no excuses, but the signage is grim.
‘Cav sez; “Gotcha!” to Baz’, as the Sun might say.
It took Barry Hoban a whole career – two decades – to notch up eight Tour stage wins – but they didn’t all come from bunch gallops.
It’s taken Cav just two-and-a-bit Tours to equal Barry’s record – but every one of those has come from a mass purge for the line.
I didn’t think that Cav could win the Primavera; now I think that he can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to; within the scope of his physical characteristics.
He can win the green jersey; on the Champs Elysees; Paris – Tours and the Worlds too-when the parcours suits him.
That said, stage win number three was no surprise; I didn’t see it myself and had to rely on Vik updates… don’t worry, I’ll spare you.
‘Armstrong admits “there is tension at Astana’s table” – says The Guardian headline today; I’d never have believed that!
I bought L’Equipe today – it was Friday’s, but what the heck? The front page ignored the then yellow jersey, Cancellara, and concentrated on the favourites…