July 1, 2005
Well, here we are at the threshold of another Tour. Bracing ourselves for three long hard weeks of racing after another long hard year of training. I definitely feel ready. I've done a lot of altitude training this year, I've changed my diet, I have a great team and my form was good at the Dauphine.
The Dauphine was my last race and I think it's the best race to do before the Tour. The Tour de Suisse happens around the same time, but I think the Dauphine is tougher.
This year there was only one field sprint and a lot of climbing every day. In fact we raced on a circuit course the final day which was at one time, I think twenty years ago, the World Championship course.
We only did it seven times but I'm sure they did it more than twenty times. Only seventeen riders finished that year because it was so tough. To wrap it up, I think the Dauphine is a great race and perfect training for the tour.
(Ed - Levi wore the leader's jersey in the Dauphine and finished in third place in the general classification, ahead of Lance Armstrong and Alexandre Vinokourov of T-Mobile. See the Cyclingnews section to review this important lead-up race.)
And so to France ...
I arrived here in France at 10pm last night. We have to arrive a few days before the race actually begins in order to do the drug control tests and press conferences. This morning we had drug control at 8am. Every rider from every team was good. Then we ate breakfast and drove to the flashy drug control.
It's not really drug control so much as a show for the press. They measure us and weigh us and the press takes pictures. It's pretty funny actually. Or stupid, I can't decide which it is.
Then we did interviews for various TV stations and headed to the time trial course. It's crazy windy because we ride out onto an island basically. Then we drove back and got a massage and afterwards headed to a Specialized press conference.
I got to talk about the new Specialized Tarmac SL. It's such a great bike. Really light and super stiff. It's an easy bike to compliment.
We went to dinner and I wore my new t shirt. It was a gift from my friend Kevin who works for Specialized. A "Vote for Pedro" t shirt - if you don't know what that means then you had better find out. My friend Mark also brought me some "vote for Pedro" wristbands.
You don't have to beat yourself up if you don't know what it's from; Bobby Julich didn't know but I did laugh at him. You see, we spend the better part of our year in Europe so when people from home come over with gifts from home, it's pretty cool.
It's really great to see people and catch up. It's right about this time of year when you really start to miss your own culture, English and burritos.
Tomorrow we ride in the morning and then head to the team press conference. In the evening we do the team presentation and then that's it. The next show will be the race. Wish me luck and I'll see you back here after the time trial (prologue).
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