Bonjour from Le Tour de France in Rodez-Revel! Vino – he’s a boy. Born 16-09-1973 in Petropavlosk, he was a stagiere with Casino in 1997; he won the Dunkirk Four Day in his first full season and finished that year with six wins – an impressive debut.
He left Casino at the end of ’99 with another seven wins under his belt to go to Telekom where he stayed until 2005 after notching wins that year in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and two Tour stages. He went south in 2006 to Liberty Seguros and a win in the Vuelta.
After the Liberty Seguros drugs fiasco he was the main mover-and-shaker in Astana’s formation but then had his own drugs debacle.
He wangled a one year suspension because ‘he was finished with the sport’ – but looked remarkably deeply involved with professional cycling, yesterday afternoon.
When we left Rodez to drive the stage yesterday, we thought that it was indeed a day for the breakaway as the road wiggled along densely wooded river valleys and rose and fell across the ridges.
Later in the stage however, the roads flattened and straightened but we were amazed to see Lampre and Columbia on the front with 125 K still to go when we caught a glimpse of a TV in a café.
A few years ago the three man break would probably have stuck, but budgets are so big and sponsors so desperate for wins that the sprinter teams will work their men into the tar for the chance of a win.
The Cervelo, Columbia and Lampre guys will be first in the gruppetto, today – the looks on their faces yesterday said it all.
Vino spoiled the party though, dropping like a brick off that hill.
When Dave and I drove down it we identified that it could favour a late charge by a madman – and so it proved.
Cav showed that he’s easily the fastest, Renshaw lead out or not.
He’s doing the right thing, sprinting for the second place points – Petacchi might not make it through the Pyrenees and Hushovd could puncture in the last K at Bordeaux.
‘If you’re not in it, you can’t win it.’
Lance was having another lazy day, joking and laughing on the run in, well down on the desperate stuff.
He’s saving it for one last ‘burst on the banjo’ – (copyright David Duffield) Dave reckons the Tourmalet top finish.
Whilst I remember; If you read our stuff on here then you’ll have read about the guy we met at our first night digs in Mende who asked if a ten minute time penalty means you have to leave ten minutes after everyone else, the next day.
His other classic was that he feels ‘cheated’ because they don’t race all of the last stage; there should be none of that champagne drinking nonsense – they should be made to race the whole stage.
I’ll need to ask one of the boys in the Pyreneean gruppetto about that – ‘there’s a boy we’ve met thinks you’re not racing enough!’
It’s a glorious Sunday morning, we’re headed from Saturday night’s base in Toulouse to the stage start at Revel.
No schmoozing today though, we’re headed for the montagnes, the brutal HC Port de Pailhères, 15 kilometres at 7.9% with one of the kilometre sections averaging 10.5%.
We’re spending the whole day up there, spectating from the caravan ’til the last man on the road.
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