Cue birds singing, the sound of fresh coffee bubbling in the percolator, smartly dressed waitresses bustling here and there to tend to your every need; the perfect hotel breakfast. Then suddenly like the screech of bike brakes in a peloton pile-up I awake. Cue the sound of the nearby autoroute, truck engines starting and alarm clocks beeping. Welcome to a Formule 1 Hotel and the glamorous life of a Tour de France journalist. Well, what did you expect for 30 euros a night for two people? But we’re not on vacation – we’re on Le Tour, baby!
Date With Destiny
I must say though, life isn’t all that bad. Yesterday I took delivery of a brand new Look 595, “not the bike that Thor Hushovd is riding?” I here you cry; yes, the very same. En Route to our date with TdF destiny we stopped by Nevers, the home of the Look bicycle factory to try out their latest carbon creation and get the inside line on what it takes to put together a Tour stage winning velocipede. Stay tuned for the full Pez report on that adventure after the festivities have wrapped up en France.
Just look at the raw glee on James’ face as he prepares to ride the all new, 2007 Look 595 for the rest of the Tour. Tune in each day for our ongoing review of Thor Hushovd’s bike-o-choice.
Sites And Smells Of The TdF
So what is in store for you dear reader over the next week and a half? I fully intend to spend most of it riding some of the most interesting features of the coming stages, giving you the low-down on what it takes to ride these monuments as a slightly out of shape former elite amateur racer and bring you the inside scoop on the Tour gossip. Plus of course some culinary tid-bits and a literary account of the sites and smells of the world’s greatest bike race. If you’re stuck in an office cubicle somewhere skiving off work to read this rant… unlucky. At least you can live the experience of watching la Grande bouclй vicariously, through the one and only PezCyclingNews!
Commesso’s face shows the glee of finishing the forst tough day in the mountains.
On With The Show!
Now, enough of that, on with the show! We flew down from our luxury residence in Cahors to Pau, to catch the finish of today’s stage. First though came the unenviable task of procuring my press accreditation from the kindly fellows at the ASO. Apparently World Cup fall-out has soured their demeanor, but 3 hours later following diplomatic negotiations sufficient to unite all world nations I had my press pass and stickers for the car safely in my hands. The only challenge remaining was to find the free shuttle bus to the finish and get there before the riders.
Cunego made it in with the big group 7:23 down, but held his own on GC, until tomorrow at least.
Worming In The Press Tent
Success! Found my way to the finish area and was turned away from three entrances before I found one that was deemed appropriate for my pass. Finally I crossed the boundary into the hallowed ground of the press tent and wormed my way through the masses to the roadside. I grabbed the opportunity to snap some shots of the exhausted riders and hear a few words about the days efforts.
7 minutes down on the leaders came Salvatore Commesso, clearly exhausted by the 190km jaunt to Pau. “Hard” was his lengthy response before pedalling back to the team bus. More forthcoming was Damiano Cunego, unfortunately his reaction was limited to Italian and my knowledge of the language is practically non-existent. Giuseppe Guerini shot by, babbling in his mother tongue and I was left with a vacuum of feedback until I managed to collar David Millar by the Saunier Duval team bus.
Millar: Training ain’t racing.
So what did David think? “Its great to be back racing!” his resounding initial reaction, but added a cautionary remark that “No matter how much you train for it you can’t replicate [racing]. You’ve just got to be patient. I’m recovering really well, my condition’s good, I just need to wait for the race condition to come.” David said that he didn’t have any major targets for the remainder of the race except that he aims to “stay relaxed and take it as it comes, I’m not really sure how I’m going to react to it all but I’m not going to just sit up. I’m going to push myself.” How is the Brit getting on riding his first Tour de France since leaving Cofidis? “The ambience in the team (Saunier Duval) is just great. Off the bike everyone’s really relaxed but they’re really professional. They enjoy it, there’s no pressure” and on that note, the former yellow jersey holder went to “lie down before I collapse.”
Giuseppe Guerini looked good as part of the T-Mobile power-squad today.
That concluded my time in the finish zone before I hopped back on to the shuttle bus to the press room. I arrived to write this story feeling a little sweaty and dishevelled, a little like a Columbo’s jounalistic equivalent if I’m honest. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update where I intend to bring you the amateur eye view of what its like to ride the Col d’Aspin and speak to some locals along the way.
Ciao for now,