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 !
“Contador, rey del Tour. Volveré a por el tercero en un equipo en el que no esté Armstrong” – “Contador, King of the Tour. I’ll be back for the third in a team without Armstrong” is the predictable headline in today’s AS.
Alberto Contador made all the front pages in the sports and normal press today with his second Tour de France win and he wants more, but without the problems of being in a team with the seven times Tour winner, Lance Armstrong.
“El señor del Tour. Contador fue agasajado en Paris ante un Armstrong gélido” – “The gentleman of the Tour. Contador smothered with attention in front of an icy Armstrong”
Garmin wants Contador for an “anti-Armstrong” and it seems that Alberto has many “girlfriends” that are courting him. Caisse d’Epargne, Katusha and Fernando Alonso (F1 driver with Banco de Santander). Stay calm, he signed a two year contract and won’t share his liberty with no one. Well we will wait and see.
Mikel Astarloza: “The objective is complete. I won my first stage, which was very special. The pain is that I didn’t finish in the top ten. The Tour likes Euskaltel as the team animates the race, always on the attack.”
Lance Armstrong: “My rivals were stronger than me. My broken collar bone upset my preparation in the Giro”.
Carlos Sastre: “I wasn’t at my maximum”.
Christian Prudhomme (Tour Director): “Contador is a very human champion, not the look of a robot. He demonstrated through out the Tour his strength of character. An elegant climber who dominates his rivals. Alberto is a unique antidote to Lance Armstrong”:
Andy Schleck: “I’ll be back for victory”.
Beppu and Arashiro: “The first time two Japanese riders have finished the Tour in Paris”. History in the making, they didn’t win any stages or take any jerseys, but everyone knew they were there. Beppu said on the fast train to Paris, “I’m going home to my country for a party.”
Last word goes to the home town (Pinto) of the 2009 Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador: “Armstrong es un idolo roto para toda la familia Contador” – “Armstrong is a broken idol for all of the Contador family”.
Tonight (Madrid 18:00, Pinto at 19:30) there will be all of Alberto’s family and most of the people from the village in the Plaza de José Crespo to welcome and congratulate him and many of the youngsters will end up having a bath in the fountain!
I hope you have enjoyed the view of the Tour de France from a Spanish prospective. Next we have La Vuelta in August and September, see you there!
¡Adios amigos! Al.