July 16, 2005
I promise this will not be another hotel bashing but as I write this I am sitting in a pool of sweat. We're in a valley in a hotel with no air conditioning and we raced all day in 35+ degree weather. I can't stop sweating.
Aside from that, it was a great day for our team. Georg Totschnig, my teammate, was depressed last week because he finished seventh in the tour last year and he wanted to do at least as well this year but it wasn't working out that way. He got sick between the tour of Swiss and the tour so he wasn't feeling his best.
He wanted to go in the break today and win the stage and that's exactly what he did. It's really great when that happens. He had such an impressive ride. Discovery was not so strong, and at the bottom of the big climb is was crazy hot. T Mobile went to the front and went hard - as soon as it got steep all of the Discovery guys got caught because I guess they wanted to make sure Lance was alone. It gets rid of Ullrich's teammates as well, but at least then it's even.
As for me, it was hard but I was ok most of the time. Basso kept attacking on the climbs and I didn't want to accelerate too often so I just stayed at my pace and got back on when I could. I knew the climbs well so if I knew a flat spot was coming up I would be sure to get back on before we hit it. I lost Floyd's wheel just before the finish but I knew with about one kilometre to go it flattened out a little so I was sure to get back on by then. Sure I lost contact a few times, but it could have been much worse. Botero lost a half hour, Moreau lost something like six or eight minutes. It's easy to lose a lot of time in these tough stages.
Having said that, I need an ice bath and some sleep. Tomorrow is probably the toughest stage. I think you'll see riders arriving one by one at the finish. Wish me luck!
July 15, 2005
Impressive Horner & more traffic snarls
Today was, well, another fast hard day in the Tour de France. We had a huge tailwind (the favorable kind of wind) in the beginning so I was spun out in the eleven immediately. It was also really hot, like the rest of Europe right now. The break went early on. Eventually Lampre and Lotto started chasing and at that point it started to get tough. The tailwind turned into headwind, crosswind and constant gusts of hot air.
By the time we pulled into the finishing city of Montpellier guys starting attacking because the chasing teams were done for the day. By done, I mean tired. This is when the break changed up and it eventually ended up being Chris Horner and Sylvain Chavanel.
Chris was out there all day long and got caught with maybe twenty meters to go. It was an impressive race for him. I think he ended up getting tenth place. He and Sylvain were both caught before the finish.
Then we piled into the bus and drove five inches and then sat there for a long time. I'm not going to complain about it again but imagine what it's like for thousands of people to leave one spot at the same time in a French city. The thing with European cities is that they were never really planned for cars and bike races. They were initially built to confuse invaders so they couldn't leave and they would kill them or something. Then more and more city was built around it over the years in pieces here and there so nothing has any kind of order or symmetry.
Anyone who's ever tried to find their hotel in Europe knows what I'm talking about. Obviously we don't have to do the navigating but sometimes we pass things twice on the way to the hotel if you know what I mean. We're a car full of salty, hungry, grumpy, thirsty bike racers who need showers and beds and massages. Would you like to drive us around? I guess it must be more stressful for the driver than anyone.
Well, tomorrow is a good day for me. Better get some sleep.
See you back here!