Rest day, it’s a bit of a misnomer if you are journo on the Tour.
My first task was to get the washing done, I try to travel light and do a washing every couple of days, it’s a “fine drying day, today” as my mum used to say, so by the time I get back tonight, my wardrobe should be replenished.
I left Martin to get a little extra beauty sleep after all that driving and wandered-off to find a caff. It didn’t take long and I soon had my cafe au lait and armagnac in front of me.
I caught-up on the emails and texts then had a think about today – the piece will be, what a journalist, mechanic and rider do on the rest day.
The answer for us is easy – work! First stop was Pau to catch our old pal and spanner-man supreme, Allan Buttler of Discovery.
En-route we caught-up with Dario Cioni (Predictor/Lotto) to get some pics of him on his rest day run.
Cadel was there with him, and ‘Fast Freddy’ Rodriguez.
Next-up was to find Al, the hotel where Disco were was guarded like Fort Knox, but it didn’t stop the hopeful ‘groupies’ at the gates. Apart from asking Al about his rest day, we wanted shots of Alberto Contador’s steed.
Alberto was out on the road so we agreed to come back around 2.30. It was no problem to ‘loose’ an hour – omelette and frittes filled the time nicely.
Back at La Navarre there was a press conference due, but we shunned the glitz in favour of the back of Alan’s truck.
You can read about our chat, and the one we had with Dario Cioni, up on Pez. The mood in the Predictor/Lotto camp felt good and we even got a ‘hi!’ from climber, Mario Aerts as he wandered past carrying his baby, and there was Mrs. Aerts, down for a rest day visit.
Back at Lourdes we got busy on the copy and pictures, revelling in the lobby wi-fi and a beer as we worked-away.
The red light on the BlackBerry flashed – an email, from our friend Al Hamilton. I get about 20 a day from him, from his home in Spain and we banter back and forward a lot. I wondered what insult he would be firing at me this time.
It was no insult, but it pierced me to the core; “have you heard that Vino has failed a test, after the TT on Saturday?”
My heart sank, albeit I wasn’t surprised; Vino’s roller coaster form had left me baffled and there was a feeling in my waters about it.
There’s another rider who’s making me feel the same, but I’m not familiar with French (or Danish) defamation laws.
The emails and texts came flying-in; we debated whether Martin and I should go back to Pau, where Astana were based. But what was the point?
Vino was out – with someone else’s blood in his veins, Astana were out and I finally had to face that my 100 bucks on Kloden was a goner.
A trip to Pau would yield pictures of reporters clustered around Astana’s manager Marc Bivers – who looks just like a London East End gang leader – plus the inevitable shots of team vehicles driving away.
I got that T-shirt last year, with Basso, Ulrich and oh yes – Astana!
Not much else to say; tomorrow we’re driving the full stage again and we’ll be stopping to get public opinion on – doping, what else?
Oh! I nearly forgot, my T-shirts smell great.