And now Le Tour de France 2009 is 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.
Cav: what can you say?
A force of nature, the best sprinter in the world, period.
Contador: tranquilo, smiling, professional, photogenic, dignified, the best climber, the best chrono man – the champion.
Last year, Philippe Brunel told me that for a Tour winner to be a real star; “he must impose himself upon the race.”
Bert did that, and with half of his team riding against him.
Respect, Alberto Contador.
The Metro was horrific, it felt like being in a sci-fi film, fleeing from an alien menace, for the Parisiens; “c’est normale!“
The press room was unusually chatty, you could have been forgiven for thinking that it was a friendly place.
There’s always a big sense of anti-climax after the Tour, if you’re working on it.
For the riders, there’s a big bash, the loved ones are all there, looking cool, there’s joy and relief in the air – but if you’re a hack, you skulk off into the night feeling a little empty, confused, needing a shower and a bed.
Working on the Tour is like working at a Six Day race; you’re in a bubble.
The mobile may push a pin through the latex and connect you to the world outside of the bubble, but within seconds of the call ending, the latex self seals and the call is forgotten – I have to write them down, on the spot, they don’t even register.
Then it’s over – and there’s the MOT, the dog being sick, bills, customers – and guilt.
Guilt, because apart from the few minutes you spend chatting to your loved ones each day, you’ve hardly thought about them.
Your mind has been full of angles, schedules, road blocks, race officials, writing pieces, parcours, taking pictures, editing pictures, wi-fi, Lance, Cav, Bert and all the others riders and people…
Never mind – soon be La Vuelta !