PEZ: What did you do with your rest day, Charly?
Charly: The usual; an hour-and-a-bit on the bike, had a bath, tidied my suitcase and sweated a lot – there’s no air conditioning in this hotel, and it’s stinking hot.
PEZ: Happy with your three days in the Pyrenees?
Charly: Yes, I think I did quite a good job; I was there when I was needed.
An easy ride with the team was all that was on the docket for Charly on Monday.
PEZ: The Pyrenees weren’t as decisive as perhaps we thought they would be?
Charly: It was shadow boxing; the real big things are going to happen later in the race. Astana came out on top and are very strong, but that means they’ll have a lot of responsibilities, later in the race.
PEZ: Do you think the organisers designed the three Pyreneean stages not to be decisive?
Charly: Yes, you wouldn’t normally see such big groups on hills like the Tourmalet, but it was a long way from the summit to the finish. I think that it’s better for the public to see stages with successful breaks, like we’ve been seeing.
PEZ: That was a neat trick Hushovd pulled to take the green jersey.
Charly: Impressive; that’s not an easy hill, but I think Cav will take the green jersey at the end – I hope so, anyway.
Thor raced smart to get himself into Vert. Now, the question is if he can play this strategy for Green all the way to Paris.
PEZ: What was the peloton saying about Feillu’s ‘polka dot everything’ look.
Charly: I’m not going to comment on that one!
Dots dots dots.
PEZ: Nocentini could be in yellow for a while yet.
Charly: Perhaps until next weekend; Bruyneel is always good at finding allies. He’s got the strongest team in the race with four in the top ten; but he now has AG2R riding with them too; it’s a big skill that he has.
PEZ: Any signs of Lance Mania easing?
Charly: I was riding close to him on the Tourmalet and there were a lot of people shouting for him – I think his return has been good for the sport.
Bruyneel and Astana found able-bodied help in the very pleased with Jaune Ag2r team.
PEZ: The British newspaper The Guardian, headlined today; “Armstrong admits ‘there is tension at Astana’s table,” any evidence of that on the road?
Charly: No, we don’t see that during the race; but remember that it’s normal to have riders with similar ambitions on the same team – it’s by no means a new thing in the sport.
PEZ: Cadel and the Media?
Charly: I don’t want to comment on Cadel’s behalf, but what I would say is that I look at the chaos the big riders have to endure at stage starts and particularly finishes; and I know that I’d get irritated. They don’t stop race horses as quickly after a race as they do us; you’re being asked questions so quickly after you’ve finished that it’s difficult to give a sound and reasoned answer. It’s not something that I would like to have to put up with; a rider needs a little space after they’ve finished a race.
Press conferences are good for chatting. Immediately after 100% effort? Not so much.
PEZ: Hotels and food on this Tour?
Charly: The food is excellent, but we bring our own chef. The hotels have been a little bit dodgy and this one is a shocker. I don’t know how they stay in business; there’s no air con and the rooms are hot and smelly.
PEZ: I thought air con was a ‘no-no’ for riders?
Charly: What you don’t want is the lethal combination of a sweaty body being blasted with cool air; but there’s a happy medium.
Charly wasn’t a big fan of the hotel in Limoges.
PEZ: If you could change just one thing on the Tour?
Charly: ‘Jolly stages’ – have it so that you could opt out of a couple of the stages that you didn’t fancy, but still be in the race!
PEZ: Will we email pat McQuaid about this one, for you?
Charly: Yeah, tell him to forget about the outcry over race radios and look into this idea!
PEZ: And what about the coming week?
Charly: Lots of stages that look easy on paper, but are really tough. I think the breaks will be let go by AG2R and Astana – it’ll be good for the fans; they don’t want to see ten days of bunch sprints.
With thanks to Charly for his time and good humour; we’ll be talking to him again, before the end of the Tour.