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Robert Millar: Are they ready?

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Greg LeMond wore the distinctive Z uniform during his 1990 Tour triumph.

Greg LeMond wore the distinctive Z uniform during his 1990 Tour triumph.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)

Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert on the stage in Liège

Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert on the stage in Liège
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Greg Lemond at the start of the 1992 Tour of Flanders.

Greg Lemond at the start of the 1992 Tour of Flanders.
(Image credit: Sirotti)

And that doesn’t just apply to the the riders. The best and worst thing about the Tour de France for a team is the pressure of it all, the size of the Tour organisation, the attention from the media and the spectators, the expectations and the responsibilities of each team member, be they rider or the bus driver, means they will all be pushed to their limits at some stage in the three weeks touring France. Those pressures become all the more intense the further up the ladder you to go, not because the decisions are fundamentally different for a wild card selection compared to Sky or BMC, it's just everything is analysed to nth degree when you are in a contender's team .

For the riders sometimes the race is the easy bit, you only have to do the job, so if you are a Wiggins or an Evans that means being in the right place in the peloton at the right time, keeping position, always having two or three teammates round about you just in case of a mechanical or heavens forbid a fall, eating right, drinking enough, not taking any wind when you don't have to. The designated helpers for each day have to be attentive, where's their leader, what's happening in the race, do they need to do anything, Is there a danger coming up, on bottle duties do they go back on request or at roughly set points?

It's all stuff they've done before during the year but at the Tour it becomes more stressful because the race is faster, there are more cars, motorbikes and people to negotiate. Basically the circus is bigger.

Picture the scene, typical hotel after a typical TdF stage, it's hot, the mechanics have finished for the evening, the masseurs have finished the massages for all the riders except Greg who is last because he's being doing interviews. Down in the bar the DS's are relaxing, fending off questions and chewing the fat with the guests of the day. Monsiuer LeMond decides to play a trick on his friend, mechanic and confidant Juilian by sneaking into the room where the bikes are being kept and removing his bikes, carefully sneaking them into his bathroom before retiring for the night. He thinks it'll be hilarious in the morning when there's a panic and Julian will be running about like the proverbial blue fly. But it all goes wrong when one of the mechanics decides to check on something before he goes to bed and he discovers the theft of LeMond's machines. There is panic just as Greg expected but the guys don’t wake him up to tell him because it's late, he needs his sleep and the added stress won#t be good.

Mistakes will be made, dramas will occur and people will fall out with each other and by the end of the three weeks everyone will look and feel ten years old older.

Evans and BMC have been there before but it’s something Wiggins and Sky will have to get used to.

What's the Japanese for ‘in five minutes’?