Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Caught-out, in the bubble again

Stage two seemed like it was a relief to get this show on the road. Each morning, the usual discussion ensues about where to see the race and when you drive a car in a bike race you get pretty much one chance to see the race, so that means looking out for the best spot. The Tour's organisers, ASO, still won't give us a moto every day, so it's driving for us and that means one shot on the long flat days, two if you are very lucky. It ain't easy.

Yesterday (stage 3) Gerard Brown texted me after the finish, asking what the race felt like after Armstrong's cheeky echapée. Truth is I was trying to find the hotel on a SatNav that refuses to acknowledge the fact that France exists, and seems determined not to help us see the Tour at all. So his question confused me, Cav won, right? sounded like a straightforward stage to me. The Green Jersey team rolled on from Marseille to La Grande Motte, nice course, lovely day, business as usual then? Apparently not. I was here, at the side of the road, but had no idea what was going on.

Everyone says to me that following the Tour and the Giro must be a dream job, and it has it's moments, but you barely get to see the 'race' – but the truth is you play the waiting game, just like the spectators. Occasionally you make it to the finish and watch the finale unfold, but when you don't you have little clue, until you get to the Hotel and switch on the TV.

Stage 3 went through the beautiful countryside of Provence and through the Rhone valley, which is where we stopped, in Arles on the banks of the huge river, in the Town that Vincent Van Gogh called home for a while. We found a cafe that had a TV, and the best part of the day was sipping a beer, watching the race unwind it's way towards us. It all still seemed pretty straightforward to me.

"But what about the finale?" Gerard asked. "No idea, what about it?" I replied.

"Wow!" he replied. I was none the wiser.

When I did eventually get to see the finale on TV last night, I choked on my beer. All I can say is that Lance Armstrong is clearly here to win the Tour. Alberto Contador must be hopping mad, or stupid, to see Lance Armstrong disappear off the front of the peloton (and not even attempt to win the stage?!) clearly a cynical and undermining attempt to take the jersey for himself. It had something reminiscent of Bernard Hinault about it – the arrogant and pig headed part. 

I can't understand why on earth he rode with that break and he was certainly pulling it along with the High Road steam train, what was Bruyneel thinking? And what the hell happened to Bradley Wiggins and the Garmin team? That was a chance for them to win the Yellow jersey today at the TTT... I'm lost for an explanation. So as for today, I think Saxo Bank may struggle to protect Cancellara's lead, Astana could do it, but only if LA and AC can bare to be in the same pace line.

So off to the Team Time Trial today, this could be very interesting, this Tour is already shaping up to being a classic, just hope I get to see a bit more of it today.


  1. GO LANCE!
    that's why he is in my fantasy team. knowledge of the way a bike race is raced.

  2. If you watched, you would see that the question should be that Contador still has some learning to do. We forget that despite his three grand tout titles, he is still inexperienced. There is no need to slam Lance for that stage, we should question those who ride toward the back (and their directors) especially when a critical turn is looming. One reason I like Cancellara, no such lapses.

  3. It was clear that somehow Armstrong got that something was up with the Columbia folks. What is not clear was why he (and Bruyneel) thought it was appropriate to help power the thing.

    I think we can all agree that Armstrong is a pretty competitive fellow. Frankly, I would not want to be an Astana team member having to make a horrible decision on who to support.

  4. money talks, and contador walks!