Bonjour! The start starts today in Montereau-Fault-Yonne, but we're not there. Usually I start the VeloVeritas diary for Le Tour de France 2009 in the morning but then have to switch to 'other work' mode for most of the day - going back to poor old VV late in the day, as Martin and I fight off le vieux homme Morpheus.
We left Bourgoin-Jallieu this morning, but first a quick run through some of the teams' performances; Cervélo: their Tour has been a good one, Haussler and Hushovd have won stages and Thor has made himself a whole load of new fans by the way he has ridden in pursuit of green.
There's a little breeze fluttering the trees in Annecy, it's mild at 25 degrees but rain is forecast - chrono day. The thing about a Tour time trial is that the conditions I have just described might prevail for first starter, at 11:10, F des J's Belorussian champion and lanterne rouge (now that Kenny has gone home) Yauheni Hutarovich.
It had to be an early start, today for Le Grand-Bornand. To get down to the Bourg-Saint-Maurice start, we had to drive against a section of race route and decided to get away early to beat the closures.
Sitting here in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, perhaps I'm going to revise my opinion that l'Equipe's Tour coverage isn't as good as the Gazzetta's Giro coverage. The Gazzetta looks better, but the L'Equipe goes so deep.
"Armstrong redescend sur terre," says the headline in L'Equipe - 'Armstrong brought back to earth at the Le Tour de France 2009.' Bert dominates the front page, smiling with his "smoking gun" finger held high - VeloVeritas says; "Chapeau, Bert!"
We finished in Verbier today, but first, a little diversion; I've always admired Bradley Wiggins as a pursuiter, but as a roadman, he's never cut the mustard; the cycling saddo's bible, 'Velo' doesn't lie.
"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.
Bonjour from Colmar! A couple of unrelated items first: I just noticed that the Rolex ad on the back of yesterday's L'Equipe is a picture of Turnberry, with Ailsa Craig in the background - ah! the Auld Country!
Tour de France! Ca va? What does the '0' stand for in 02:30 ? "Oh my God, it's early!" Four hours sleep, as Barry White would say; "it's just not enough!" It's 14:19 and we're on the motorway, near Metz; we just got lost - no excuses, but the signage is grim. Destination Vittel.
'Cav sez; "Gotcha!" to Baz', as the Sun might say if it were to cover Le Tour de France, and today's stage into Saint-Fargeau. It took Barry Hoban a whole career - two decades - to notch up eight Tour stage wins - but they didn't all come from bunch gallops.
I didn’t think that Cav could win the Primavera now, after today's display in Limoges, I think that he can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to within the scope of his physical characteristics. He can win the green jersey on the Champs Elysees in Le Tour de France, Paris - Tours and the Worlds too-when the parcours suits him.
As Jean Rene Bernadeau kissed Pierrick Fedrigo after the sharp featured former French champion took the second Bbox stage of the 2009 Tour, from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes. I think what he said was; “well done son, we’ve all got a job, next year!”
Less than one week into its debut Tour, the Cervélo Team scored a sprint victory today with Thor Hushovd in the 181.5km sixth stage to Barcelona. Hushovd battled through rain and slick roads that saw team captain Carlos Sastre fall without major consequences.
Today's fifth stage from Le Cap d'Agde saw the first successful breakaway of this year's Tour. Thomas Voeckler held off the chasing peloton by seven seconds to win out of a five-man escape in the flat but windy 196.5km course from Cap d'Agde to Perpignan. Russian rider Mikhail Ignatiev also held on from the break to claim second with British sprint phenom Mark Cavendish leading the pack snapping at their heels for third.
One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.
When Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach and seven times Scottish Road Race Champion, Evan Oliphant gets in touch to tell us there’s a junior rider named Callum Thornley that we should be speaking to, we snap to attention.
When Jos Ryan of the David Rayner Fund gets in touch then we know it’s not just to ask how we are. ‘Have you been keeping up with our rider, Toby Perry’s performances in Spain, he’s just had his second win?’ Fortunately for us, we could reply in the affirmative.
If you watched Stage One of the Giro on Eurosport or GCN then you’ll have heard that someone had the great idea to recruit British professional rider, Dan Bigham to join the commentary team as a ‘chrono specialist.’ Here at VeloVeritas we thought it would be good to put to Dan all those sad questions that trouble bike obsessives like us.
John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.