Dave did whinge a bit, though; ‘I haven’t recovered yet from that death march up and down the Tourmalet!’
‘Courage, mon ami!’ I told him as we parked the SEAT close to the Palais de Justice.
We hadn’t even started our mission when Ivan Basso and chrono king, Fabian pedalled past, chatting away like two club men – old Fab musn’t worry too much about that ‘getting in the zone’ stuff.
The Palais de Justice has had an hi-tech extension added which looks stunning – a collision of old and new which works brilliantly.
But the cathedral is definitely old, though – started in the 12th century.
Across the square is the town hall, hosting a Tour ‘exposition’ – closed, unfortunately.
Narrow streets with smart shops lead up to the Porte Dijeaux, one of the old city gates.
The Porte stands next to the Place Gambetta with it’s English gardens.
The Place is on the TT course and we stood to watch first man Grabsch – eventual third, despite all the hard work for Cav – and a handful of others get into their stride.
Dimitri Champion’s manager had inspired advice for his man from the AG2R car, over the loud speaker; ‘Allez, Dimitri!’
Coffee time, nothing better than sitting at a street cafe watching a bike race, Bernhard Eisel, the man in the picture.
The Place des Quinconces is the big expanse where the Tour set up shop for the chrono; at one side is the Monument aux Girondins, to heroes of the Revolution.
The fountains are fabulous, the Rough Guide says that during the Second World War the Resistance dismantled the huge bronze statues and hid them to prevent the Germans from melting them down.
A deal was going down in the square between the cops and the washing liquid freebie man – we weren’t a party to the exact details, but a lot of sachets were changing hands.
We spied old chum, Craig Geater over at The Shack camp and ambled over for a chat – and a few snaps of the latest Lance mobile.
From old bronzes to the latest machines and materials.
Trek have taken bicycle design to a new level – both brakes are completely concealed, as are all the cables, they pop in to the frame beneath a rubber shroud just behind the stem. We asked Craig if it’s fiddly to route the cables; ‘it takes a while!’ came the reply.
Lance runs over-size derailleur pulleys on the SRAM rear mech; Sammy Sanchez’s Euskaltel mechanics are unconvinced of the benefits but Craig insists it gives a straighter chain line and saves watts.
It’s one cool machine.
Talking of ‘cool’ – ice vests are taking hold for time trial warm ups, we saw them used at Rabobank and Bbox.
There are 100 cow sculptures dotted around Bordeaux, we had the same exhibition in Edinburgh a year or two ago – they’re colourful and kids love them.
The cultural heart of the city is the Place de la Comйdie with it’s carousel, over looked by the Grand Thйвtre, a focal point of the city since 1780, and built on the site of an old Roman temple.
South of the theatre are the beautiful old squares of the Place du Parliament and Place Saint Pierre, linked by the kind of lanes you could wander all day.
Look left and right down these narrow streets and you’ll catch sight of fairy tale towers and gates.
Back onto the main drag of Cours Victor Hugo and we’re on the TT course again – more of that collision between old and new things.
But first there’s a picture of Arashiro to take.
The Cafe des Arts has been around 80 years and is the cool place to hang – whilst across the road, a Jaguar bursts out through the first storey wall of a department store.
Time to head back to the car, there’s a chrono to follow – but not without more history
- and Davie Zee, of course.