July 20, 2005
Today was another lesson in pain. The course profile looked like the edge of a saw for starters. A 240 kilometre saw blade. The entire day was up two kilometres, down two kilometres and so on. There were absolutely no flat spots.
At one point one of my teammates rode up along side me on one of the little climbs and said, "do you know that there are 40 of these today?". He counted them on the profile. I didn't mention it in my diary but I crashed yesterday. It wasn't really bad but I lost some skin from riding into the ditch. I figured everything was fine but I was relieved when the race started and everything felt normal.
It started out really fast and the field broke up on the first third category climb somewhere around the 22 kilometre mark. It came back together eventually and that's when the break went. After that Discovery assumed their position on the front riding tempo. By the time the break reached 22 minutes they stopped working and let some other teams take over.
Credit Agricole pulled for a while and then with about 30 kilometers to go T Mobile went to the front and just stepped on the gas. All of their guys took turns on the front as hard as they could and the last guy before Jan was Vino. He went so fast into the final three kilometre climb that only ten of us remained. Then Ullrich attacked. It hurt. Did I mention that? And did I mention how fast we were going?
Someone told me it didn't even look like a climb on TV because of the speed, but my legs will tell you that it was a climb.
Tomorrow we get more of the same punishment at the end of the race. We finish on a super steep three kilometre climb. I can't wait for that one. I think I'm getting more mentally tired than anything. It starts to happen around this time in the Tour. The driving, the late hours, the early mornings and of course the racing. I'm having fun of course, but if I stop making sense in the next couple of days maybe you'll understand.
Speaking of fun, our team had barbecues the past few nights at our hotel in Pau. The hotel staff wouldn't let our cooks in the kitchen again so they cooked out on the grill and we all sat around listening to the adventures of the staff.
I learned that the real action begins when the racers go to bed. They have soccer games, they roll each other down streets in garbage cans and lots of other interesting things I can't write about. It was pretty cool, and for a couple hours it didn't feel like we were in the middle of the Tour.
Better get some sleep!
See you tomorrow,
July 19, 2005
Great guy, true professional
I had some much needed rest on the much needed rest day. I took some time to read over my diaries. The last one bothered me so I wanted to mention it now.
Sometimes when I write these things I'm really tired and can hardly formulate a proper thought. Anyway, in the last entry I didn't give George Hincapie enough credit. I mentioned his win but it didn't seem to come across the way it should have. So I should elaborate now that I can.
George deserves a lot of credit. He didn't seem to get any the other day from the press. He has spent more time in the wind during the last six tours than any other rider and he could easily finish in the top ten of the tour.
This would be great on it's own, but consider the fact that he also finishes in the top three in Roubaix - no other rider can do that.
He's the best climber on Discovery this year, aside from Lance. Today he pulled on Marie-Blanque and only eight riders were left, then he continued to stay with the best riders on the Aubisque.
I saved the most important and impressive part for the end. He's a really great guy, teammate, father and husband. He would give anyone the shirt off his back and he's a true professional. Everyone likes George, period.
So that's all I have to say today.
More on the race tomorrow,