The strangest stage of the whole race from the point of view of the staff is the finale into Paris. Our team base is in northern Spain, and so all non-essential equipment went from Bordeaux back to Spain (rather than go to Spain from Bordeaux via Paris — a 1200km detour). Thus we were truckless (or untrucked?) for the only time in the race. Very Tardy.
This morning at 07:00 we had Serge Gainsbourg with 'sea, sex and sun,' it's noon now and we've got Jane Birkin, '69, annee erotique.'
Do these people never give it a rest ?
We're nearly at the stage start, Dave has done the biz all the way up from Bordeaux.
Time trials are always difficult days at races. Firstly, the riders line up knowing their final position in the race depends on their forthcoming hour of solo work, and secondly, the logistics for the staff are super complex here at the TdF Stage 19.
"Sea, sex and sun," sings Serge Gainsbourg on Radio Nostalgi - all very well, but the boys have 640 K to drive, this Sunday morning, it's the TT from Bordeaux to Pauillac. Today's chrono is 52 kilometres, but Saturday's L'Equipe glossy magazine takes us back 30 years to a much shorter effort against the watch - the Olympic one kilometre championship in 'Moscou.'
The Final Efforts. We’re on the downhill slope for this race now, and the fatigue is starting to show. It’s getting tougher and tougher to chisel our heads off the pillow each morning, and the coffees are having smaller and smaller effects.
Cav: he really is impressive - we were at five K to go when Oss passed on his death or glory bid out of the break; he was flying. The bunch Like some high speed linear motored Japanese train - whhoooooooossssshhhhh! Those carbon rims slice the air.
The Next Level. Today, TdF2010 Stage 17, was the showdown. As all who watch cycling know, any stage with a mountaintop finish is where many of the overall selections happen, and when the mountain is the Tourmalet, which is enormous both in terms of the difficulty of the climb, as well as its history, it’s all the more definitive.
'Andy talks tough !' say the headlines, he did try his best yesterday, his men used whatever was left to drive up the lower part of the Col du Tourmalet - then he went for it. However, not for one moment did it look like Alberto Contador was under pressure.
'How's it goin' Shane?' we ask Skyman Shane Sutton as we cross the car park in search of Michael Barry for a rest day interview at the Le Tour de France 2010. 'Been better, mate!' he fires back between hard draws on his fag - it's difficult for a man who wears his heart on his sleeve to 'spin.'
Today was a good day, we took in all five cols of the stage, starting in Bagneres-de-Luchon - it only adds to your respect for the pros when you see what they have to deal with. The gruppo was travelling at funereal speed, 30 minutes down when it passed us near the top of the Aubisque.
How far to go. Stage 16 TdF2010 was the biggest climbing stage of the Tour, but the last climb was some 60km from the finish, which made for a weird looking profile for the day. The boys scaled four enormous mountains, the first beginning from km 0. Tough gig.
Voeckler, you have to admire him, he's a racer.
Whatever happens, it's been a good Tour for Bbox, Charteau in polka dots for a good stretch and now Tommy takes a big one.
Going down to Pro Continental doesn't seem to have affected them one bit - and it's saved them a fortune.
It was a tad mad up on the Port de Bales today but great to be there - Monday afternoon, high in the Pyrenees under a clear blue sky with the world's best cyclists just inches away.
We left Ax3 Domaines this morning, and are now in Lourdes - a strange place, like a religiously themed Blackpool; only it's not little replicas of the tower they're selling, rather all manner of tat plastered with religious images. The last time I was there was with Martin, we sat, stunned in a late night pizza place - yellow jerseyed Rasmussen had just been sent home from le Tour by Rabobank.
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.
After a single day of respite from the searing heat of the majority of this race, we were back into a bright sunny day for TdF Stage 13 with high temperatures. This meant the support crew were back up the road helping our boys as best we were able on the big climbs.
TdF Stage 13...The big question of the day: will it be a sprint or a break? The Tour has now fallen deep into the second half of the race and the real show to sort out who will finish where in the general classification starts today as we hit the high mountains of the Pyrenees.
Sadly, Tyler abandoned yesterday as his body finally said “enough”. We were all disappointed for him. It was very saddening to see his face, which showed the acute disappointment he felt. The race itself did go on, however, and typically, Garmin-Transitions were flying the flag despite the setbacks today at the TdF Stage 12.
Le Tour de France, Bourg-de-Peage-Mende, and Bert's back! And we were there to see it, a privilege. L'Equipe today says 'Fin de la Trêve' - that's 'end of the truce, (or respite)'. That's how it looked to us, Contador letting Schleck know that he's just fine.
Hump Day & Humdrum. As the physio on team Garmin-Transitions, all I can say is this is a dangerous sport. All things considered, 3rd place for Tyler yesterday was a fantastic effort by the whole team, with Dave Zabriskie helping to control the break for most of the day.
‘Sorry, I fell asleep, I need my afternoon nap after one of Flavio’s training sessions – a 90 minute chain gang then six laps of a circuit with a steep ‘kicker’ in it.’ That was Hamish Strachan explaining to us why he’d missed our call – good to hear that the young man is back in the groove after a difficult start to his year.
It was 2019 when we last spoke to Iain Macleod - he was with Aberdeen Wheelers then but is now with Kelpie Racing - he’d just won the SC 50 mile championships and the man is making the headlines again; a couple of weeks ago he took the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial title and before that recorded the fastest 100 mile time trial ever ridden on Scottish roads.
It was ironic that Chris Anker Sørensen’s life should end doing what he had become known for after his career as a professional cyclist was over – preparing meticulously for his role as a TV race commentator, out riding the parcours of Sunday’s World Individual Time Trial Championship in Flanders.
We liked our jaunt to the Tour of the Campsies last year and feel at home among the rolling countryside and green hills there so we headed west, first of all paying our respects to the Robert Millar mural at the foot of the Crow Road; when you watch Roglič take the Lagos di Covadonga stage in the Vuelta it’s difficult to imagine the wee fella from Glasgow winning that stage – but win it he did.
We had a look around Hawick as the 2021 Tour of Britain race carnival hit town, we caught up with friends then headed out on the course, hiding from the wind on Wanside Rig to see the peloton as it headed towards Gifford...
With victories already this season in various time trial distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles (with a two mile hill climb win too), Iain Macleod (Kelpie Racing) added the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial 2021 title to his growing palmarès.
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