Monday, 27 July 2009
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
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.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Friday, 3 July 2009
It could be a very interesting Tour this year. It's anyone's race really - so it's hard to choose a out and out favourite. I was impressed with Carlos Sastre at the Giro, he broke away in the traditional old-skool climber's way on Vesuvius and showed that he isn't scared to attack. Cadel Evans is certainly going well, but he lacks the panache and the ability to mix a race up. Alberto Contador has a good chance, as for his American team mates, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, well I think that Astana may well suffer from an embarrassment of talents and that they won't have enough 'sacrifice' in the team in order to take control. On the other hand Sastre's Cervelo team is strong, but more importantly, they are all there for him and him alone.
Mark Cavendish is the exciting ticket for British fans and I can see him managing to make it to Paris this year especially as he's shown this year that he can hang on, I do worry that he's still too impatient though. Then on the other hand that seems to be what fuels his talents. I expect Bradley Wiggins could do well in the prologue and David Millar may surprise a few as it's a good distance for him. The Team Time Trial next Tuesday may well see Garmin and High Road fighting it out head to head for the win, as they did in the Giro, and I can't wait for that one.
The penultimate stage up Ventoux could be the upset that the Tour needs to keep the race exciting. If you crack on the Ventoux you can loose half an hour in a few kilometers, so expect fireworks and I wouldn't be too surprised if the race is decided there. I hope so, the Tour needs some unpredictability and I'm glad that the organisers made it late in the race, it shows a spirit of imagination and daring.
So who will be on the podium in Paris? I'm not really sure, but my predictions for a top three would have to be:1. Carlos Sastre
2. Alberto Contador
3. Cadel Evans