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HomeDiariesLe Tour de France 2009 - Stage 14: Colmar > Besançon, 199km

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 14: Colmar > Besançon, 199km

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Montpellier

“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 here at Le Tour de France – just across the German border, the hotel room is huge, if a tad Spartan; but that didn’t stop us from sleeping like bricks, before starting our day to Besançon.

It’s very difficult to get digs close to the stage town; best to book around an hour away – which is what we did.

After the sleep deprived living death that was Thursday, we were “fully kindled up” – as we say in Fife – yesterday; a good kip makes all the difference.

Besançon
Ed takes the stage…

Martin and I got three pieces away yesterday, usually two is the target, but we had Tyler Farrar to catch up with.

Today we’re targeting two stories; the riders’ view of the first two weeks and “Lance’s bike” with a piece on the caravan as our “banker.”

Besançon
We spoke to some cool guys this morning – Danny Pate seemed like a really good guy. Photo©Martin Williamson
Besançon
We gave Charley a bottle of Drambuie as a wedding present. He was disappointed it wouldn’t fit into his bottle cage. Photo©Martin Williamson

Breakfast was fine; 08:50, nearly time to go – more tonight.

It’s 15:50 now, we got our caravan pics and ten riders’ worth of sound bites and headed off to find Lance’s hotel, to pester the mechanics.

But there’s no escaping le Tour; round a corner we came and it’s route barré (I think that’s the right spelling).

So, we’re sitting in this wee village – name unknown! – waiting on le Tour to streak through.

The word is that Big George Hincapie is in a break which has gone eight minutes clear and he’s maillot jaune virtuelle.

The sun’s oot, we’ve got two pieces in the bag and two cameras full of good pics; no need to panic.

The ‘speaker car’ zooms past; Martin reckons they said the gap is 8:30 from the peloton to the break of 12.

You never can tell in this Tour, we thought a break would be let go but be controlled smartly by AG2R; or it would end in a sprint – this wasn’t scripted.

But we’re at 45 K to go; maybe there’s time for AG2R to hang onto that jersey.

Besançon
As we were told this morning by his teammate, eventual stage winner Ivanov made it into the break. He’s here in second place as the leaders hurtle past us at 40mph through a corner. Photo©Martin Williamson

There’s a tail breeze rising as the motor bikes hurtle past – cops, photos, service, official – and Jeez! they’re here! motoring!

Partners in crime, brothers in arms all with a common goal – until the sprint, when they’d cut each other’s throat for a stage win.

There aren’t too many stages left to win; the Heads will take the mountain top finish stages and time trial; there are only three men in the race on the Champs Elysées – but there are an awful lot of teams desperate to justify the expense of dragging 30 or 40 folk round France for most of July

A Francaise des Jeux, a Lampre, Ivanov – Stijn Vandenbergh told us that was the Katusha tactic – Hincapie, Maaskant and others that I couldn’t register.

It was nice just to watch the break there and not to worry about taking pictures.

It’s a big gap; and whoosh! a tide of blue, yellow, brown and white – Astana and AG2R.

One more day of hard work for Nocentini’s faithful servants and one more move on Johan Bruyneel’s chess board.

Besançon
The bunch streak past us in less than 30 seconds.