Gord's Roadside Wrap: It’s always a weird, exhausting, exhilarating experience following the Tour de France, and it takes days before you emerge, blinking in the daylight of real life, from the mayhem of driving, chasing, writing. Then you start to look back. You start to scan through the photos that didn’t make the stories; the ideas that you didn’t use; the things that just didn’t fit at the time.
Roadside St.20: The alarm blasts - 06:00 am. It's 600 kilometres plus from Bordeaux to the Longjumeau. It's not without reluctance we leave our lovely chateau among the vineyards of Medoc and load up the SEAT.
Roadside St.19: Lance's latest super sleek time trial bike set cheek by jowl with glorious bronze statues cast to honour heroes of the French Revolution - only at le Tour, mon ami! PEZ left our glorious digs in the Chвteau Meyre and headed for a pre-chrono wander around the ancient streets of Bordeaux.
Analysis St.20: It goes without saying that winning the Tour de France is very difficult, both physically and mentally. The winning margin can also have an impact on the amount of physical and emotional stress a rider experiences. The smaller your advantage over the man in second place, the more stressful the race becomes.
Roadside St.19 The French radio car tries to muscle Dave off the wheel, but Dave’s ridden too many road races to let that happen and we tuck back in alongside the Sky team car. Stage 19, Tour de France 2010, a 52 kilometre time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac and PEZ is on the wheel of one of the fastest men in the world – Sky’s British elite road race champion, Geraint Thomas.
Analysis St. 18: After 19 days of racing Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are separated by just 8 seconds. These two have not been any more than 42 seconds apart in the overall standings since the prologue. So if they’re so even in terms of strength, how is that we’re so quick to give Alberto Contador a huge advantage in tomorrow’s 52-kilometer TT? If they’re inseparable in the mountains, why would we expect to see a big difference between their performances in the time trial?
Roadside St.18: Is Contador on the way out? Why is Cav out of the running for the green jersey? Who'll win the final time trial? Can Robbie McEwen win one of the last two stages? And why isn't Ivan Basso going well? At the start of stage 18 at Sailes-de-Bearn, we asked the men who know better than most the answers to these questions.
Roadside St.17 One hundred years - that's how long ago it is since Octave Lapize first conquered Le Tourmalet on 15 kilograms of steel bike in the 1910 Tour de France. Today, PEZ goes roadside for the Tour's final mountain showdown.
Analysis St. 17: The top of the Col du Tourmalet stands at 6939 feet above sea level and the start of the climb sits at 2329 feet, meaning today’s final ascent gained 4610 vertical feet in 11.5 miles. If you count the climb from the town of Adast (which sits at 1542 feet) to the official start of the climb, the riders climbed more than a vertical mile (5397 feet) in the final 20 miles of Stage 17. Guess what - it can be hard to breathe up there.
Interview: With all the "Monte's" he climbed to win the king of the mountains in the Giro; then the Jura, Alps and Pyrenees in the Tour, you'd be forgiven for thinking Omega Pharma Lotto's former Aussie champion, Matt Lloyd might have seen enough mountains for one year?
Analysis St.16: Some people wonder why the organizers of the Tour de France include stages like today’s. They, like the riders and race fans, know there’s not likely to be much incentive for the yellow jersey contenders to ride aggressively on a day where the summit of the final mountain is 60 kilometers from the finish line. So why “waste” the ascents of the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aubisque?
Roadside St.16: 'I think I've talked enough about that!' says Nico Roche. About what? Team mate John Gadret riding past his leader and refusing to give him a front wheel when the young Irish man was stopped with a puncture. The day got off to an inauspicious start in Bagneres de Luchon, but from there it was all, well, uphill. Read on!
Analysis St.15: I’m really struggling today. The biggest story of Stage 15 was the mechanical problem that Andy Schleck suffered on the upper slopes of the Port de Bales, and the subsequent response from Alberto Contador. The question is whether Contador should have waited for Schleck, or whether he was right to continue racing? I’m struggling because I think you can point to examples and valid justifications for both sides of the argument.
Roadside St. 14: The choppers are the first warning, like bees in a perfect blue summer sky, the crowd stands, and way, way down below us we see them - a white jersey and a red jersey, moving steadily up the ribbon of hot tar which unwinds up the valley...
Analysis St.14: Stage 14 of the 2010 Tour de France was relatively strange. Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are essentially riding a different race than everyone else in the peloton, and they seem to care only about each other.
Analysis St.13 Andy Schleck is being stalked like a gazelle on the African plains. Yes, he’s in the yellow jersey and he has a strong team, but Alberto Contador is lying in wait, ready to pounce and snuff out Schleck’s dream of winning the 2010 Tour de France. But anyone who’s watched National Geographic shows knows that the gazelle might be at a disadvantage, but he doesn’t always lose.
Analysis St. 12: The Tour de France is a long, long race and some tactics require a lot of patience. Over and over again, Team Saxo Bank have shown how strong and deep their team is, and it’s in the best interest of Team Astana to wear down Saxo Bank riders before the race reaches the big mountain stages in the Pyrenees. Putting Alexander Vinokourov into today’s 18-man breakaway was a great way of executing on that strategy because it forced Saxo Bank to chase the breakaway for much of the day.