With Dave and Martin on family holidays it was down to Callum MacGregor to step in and put up with me for the annual mad whirl around France. As an experienced racer and fan but a first timer working on the race I thought it would be good to get his impressions of Le Grande Boucle. And there's time to spare on the long haul from L'Alpe d'Huez, north to Paris.
When we spoke to Cav's personal soigneur, Aldis half way through the stage we knew it wasn't to be; 'And Mark, today ?' Aldis screwed up his face; 'he's a little sick...' So 4:1 to Greipel - and the rumours about Cav having to learn to understand Brian Smith's accent at MTN get ever stronger. We changed our system and didn't drive race route for the last stage; instead we drove straight to the digs, got organised, had a shower and headed off across a wet Paris to the finish circuit.
We didn't want any slip ups on 'le jour d'Alpe' so we were offski early to make sure we were on the parcours in plenty of time. Trouble is that we were on the road before the routing crews and had a wee bit of mucking around before we picked up the parcours. One mitigating factor was that we stumbled on Oleg out for a run, complete with bodyguard/training partner and team car.
It's fabulous being on Le Tour but it does involve hugely long days and there's always too much to do. With that in mind, to claw back a little time to get the pictures up to date, do the washing and get some proper sleep we decided to work a stage start then head for the digs.
Ca va, ca va! Friday, en route the Stage 19 start and it's been hectic. We arrived on Sunday afternoon but by the time we got to Valance, the Press Centre was closed - so it was 'Plan B,' go to the finish at Gap the next day and uplift them. Vital bits of plastic duly collected on Monday morning we headed off up the Col de Manse which is just behind Gap for Stage 16.