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July 18, 2005: A well deserved break

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It's been pretty tiring the last couple of days and the rest day is very well deserved. It's been flat out for the first couple of weeks and it's been the fastest and hardest Tour that I've done. Come the rest day, everything goes into shutdown mode so I had a pretty good sleep, woke up about 9.00 am to Whitey making a racket and woke me up as usual. He reckons he is quiet but he wakes up at the crack of dawn and then you hear his Nokia phone clicking away.

We went for an hour and a half ride, had a coffee and then rolled back. Had a laid back lunch then a massage, a bit of physio and then a big relax. I might have a cold beer later on.

The last couple of days have been pretty full on and the heat and humidity have been as bad as out the back of Adelaide in January. Seriously hot. The roads have been melting and it's been so hard for the team cars to keep up bidons to us. At times we've had to get bottles of water from other cars.

Then there was the fact that we had to go one and a half hours in the bus to the start, race seven hours, then two hours in the bus home. Didn't start dinner until after 9.00pm then massage and then try and get some sleep.

I was cursing Jean-Marie up the last climb because seriously it is getting to the limits of what a person can do.

Lying in bed before and my heart rate is clicking over at 35 bpm. For me, that means I need a good rest. Whereas most riders heart rate goes up when they need a break, mine is the opposite.

I suppose I will need to go for the first intermediate sprint, but it's hard to beat Robbie at the start of the day. Well it's pretty hard to beat him anytime, but I need to concentrate on my game plan and take each day as it comes.

I hope that in a couple of the stages coming up, I can stay with the leaders and Thor and Robbie will miss the move.

July 17, 2005: Busting a gut

By Matt White

It was my worst day of the Tour, but if that was the hardest ever then it's not too bad. I'm not a big fan of the high temperature and humidity. I dehydrated big time and I had to bust a gut early to stay with the group.

We ended up with a good group with Stuey, Robbie and Baden, so we managed to get though. But with the break taking so much time it meant we had to get into it.

Most guys are saying that this is the toughest tour in ten years, maybe longer.

It was good that the break went early. The early sprints don't suit us, we don't like going up against Robbie when he is fresh. One thing I will say, is there something about this Tour? I haven't been to the Tour before, I have never seen so many bare arses. So many people are dropping their dacks along the route, what is it?

I'm getting mooned now. I think they're Belgies too, not a pretty sight.

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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