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.