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Le Tour de France 2007 – Day 1: Stage 12, Montpellier – Castres

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Bonjour! It’s that time – there’s only one game in town and it’s called, ‘Le Tour’. Ken Livingston’s ego trip and the stages Viktor calls; “watchin’ paint dry!” are behind us, so are the Alps. Tomorrow it’s the first time trial then it’s the Pyrennes; sprinter and transition stages; the final tt and Paris. God-willing, we’ll be there all the way. We arrived at Perpignan around 6.00, local time, it’s nearly 9.00 now and we’ve still got our accreditation to collect at Castres.

Wheels for the trip, is a Renault Clio, the air-con and stereo and iPod work, that’s all you need really.

Grace Jones is telling us about ‘la vie en rose’, so we can’t complain – even although we’ve got to drive all the way to Toulouse after we get our creds.

It was cold and grey when I left Dysart at 06.30, Stanstead wasn’t cold, but the rain was apocalyptic, so it was nice to feel the warm breeze on our skin as we walked down the steps at Perpignan.

Castres – the salle de presse is still open but the permanence is closed, so we can’t get our creds.

C’est la vie, we’ll get them tomorrow at Albi before the time trial.

The trouble is that we could have driven straight to our digs at Toulouse by now, never mind.

It’s 55 kilometres to Toulouse and French drivers are still as bad as ever. There are always debates about why there are so many deaths on French roads – it’s simple; they are all deranged.

Castres
Vinokorouv’s time trial rigg – we’ll see more of this tomorrow.

The plan for tomorrow was to follow a Discovery rider for the whole day – “a day in the life of a time trial rider”, but for reasons unknown, it fell-through.

We’ll try and tee that up for the final test and simply follow a rider tomorrow.

If there’s not too much of a traffic jam behind him, then Kloden will be the rider.

I’ve got €100 on him to win the Tour and I want to protect my investment; if his work-rate drops, I’ll be out that window; “off your knees, Andreas!”

Boonen did the biz today, but Hunter has been the surprise – very strong and a good bet for green if Tom stalls in the Pyrennes.

I must confess that I didn’t think Barloworld should ride, but they’ve certainly justified their place – two victories and there are still eight stages to go.

The test tomorrow will see a big re-shuffle, it’s very unlikely that Rasmussen will stay in yellow, but there’s no room for bluff any more for the other favourites.

My money is on the aforementioned German gentleman, Andreas – I think he’ll want to show the team that he’s the man.

It will be a good race – we’ll try our best to take you there.

Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed and Martin, our top team! They try to do the local Time Trials, the Grand Tours and the Classics together to get the great stories written, the quality photos taken, the driving done and the wifi wrestled with.

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