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July 1, 2005: Calm before the storm

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I am pretty surprised at how relaxed I am. I have come so close so many times to starting in the Tour and getting ready for the Tour and now it is nearly here.

Actually you are more nervous in the weeks leading up when you are doing your training, when you are maybe not in the form you think you are, but this year I would have to say that I have had the best preparation leading up to the Tour.

When you are getting ready for the Tour, doing the Giro and the race programs that I have, I am very relaxed and ready to go and I am not worried.

This is the biggest race in the world, but it is just another bike race. Having done four Giros, four Vueltas and the Olympics, I am used to the big events.

I actually find one-day races more pressure. If you make a mistake, or are not on form in that 4-5 hours, you can't do anything about it. In the Tour, over a couple of days you can come good, you just roll with it.

I couldn't have asked for a better preparation, although I did have a slight altercation with a truck that cost me four stitches and a day off.

When you have the Giro and four weeks of the kind of preparation I have had, then you know you are ready. I am really, really relaxed and ready to go.

Another thing is that Stuey and I have got a bit of a routine we get into morning after morning. I am a pretty early riser and Stuey doesn't mind a bit of a snooze. I reckon he gets more sleep when he is away racing than when he is at home, for a number reasons. Now that he has little Seth he doesn't get that early morning sleep anymore.

We always keep positive and we like music. We have a big collection DVDs and we both like to bang away on the Playstation.

Today, like most days, I woke up half an hour before Stuey and I did a bit of stretching and tried to keep pretty quiet, until the old grizzly bear woke up when his alarm went off . He is not really a morning person, unlike myself.

We went down to breakfast and spent some time on the bike and looked at our positions. The whole crew and staff had all stepped up a level to make certain that everything is perfect for us and just how we want it. Then we went and checked out the time-trial bikes. We have new wheels and bars and needed to check it all out. We have checked out the course and the wind . The wind was very strong yesterday but settled a bit today.

We have some very strong boys and Stuey should do very well.

Yesterday should have been our day off, but we got up at 9 had breakfast and then went and did all our medicals, into the bus for a 40 minute drive to the start of the course. Rode the course, and back down the course, then drove home. Another hour or so in the bus to the hotel for lunch, stayed there for about an hour, then back out for the Team Presentations. Spent about 10 minutes presenting the team then back to the bus and another hour trip back to the hotel. We spent nearly four hours in the bus yesterday and an hour on the bike. Yesterday was our worst day , but you just have to go with the flow, otherwise you just waste a lot of nervous energy and you just have to save your energy for the race. You can't change it and you just have to do the best you can.

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During the Tour de France Cofidis team-mates Stuart O'Grady and Matt White will be taking turns to give us an inside look at the daily goings-on in the peloton and the team hotel. An Olympic gold medalist on the track, O'Grady is a rider to watch in the sprints and long breakaways, while White is an experienced grand tour rider who has been kept out of the Tour de France by a run of lousy luck that's finally ended this year. O'Grady has had a rollercoaster ride at the last few Tours, wearing the yellow jersey in 2001 and green in 2002, but never quite managing to hang on to green all the way to Paris. In the last couple of years he's shifted his emphasis away from sprint speed and remodelled himself as a Classics and long breakaway expert. White is finally riding the Tour after breaking his collarbone just before the start of last year's Tour. In 2001 he was expected to ride the Tour but did not make his US Postal's final selection and in 1999 his Vini Caldirola team had its Tour invitation withdrawn when Sergei Gontchar failed a haematocrit test at the Tour of Switzerland. After that, he's due some good luck in 2005! Australia UK USA