Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 5: Stage 2, Obernai – Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg)


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Le Tour de France 2006. I was involved with TV today — no, no, not like that, cycling dot TV – the Internet TV guys.

I met their guy, Steve Masters in the press room yesterday and he scrounged a lift off me to the start at Obernai with his camera man, James.

My wee Suzuki Swift was bursting at the seams, but they are good lads. I decided to latch-on to them for the day and first-up was the Tour start village. The grub for breakfast there really is superb — scrambled eggs, sausage, ham, cheese, beautiful bread, juice, coffee — ideal.

I think I said yesterday that I’m trying to get a ‘Golden Oldies’ section, but I’m up against it – anyway I snapped Pou-Pou & Thevenet today.

Le Tour de France 2006
Eurosport’s Christi Anderson at Le Tour de France 2006.

I also had a chat with Christi Anderson today, as in Eurosport contributor and wife of Phil Anderson. She was telling me that she and Phil have been separated for a year — happens to the best of us lass!

I was going to do an interview with her but it transpires that she was meant to do some pieces in a Tour gone by and didn’t, so she’s not flavour of the month. Now that I’ve said I wanted to interview her, I’ll need to go through with it – watch this space.

Steve wanted interviews with riders and we battled our way up to the signing-on.

It was mental busy and we had to take to the road beside the publicity caravan to get through the crowd.

It was baking-hot today, 28 degrees and I was glad I had the bunnet on. First to arrive was Zabel. You’re not far from Germany here and he’s a popular guy.

Wheels at Le Tour de France 2006 were ‘Lightweights’ at around 3,000 euros a pair, complete with ceramic ball races — his Milram team are on Shimano and ‘Lightweight’ don’t ‘bung’ stuff so they came out of his own wallet.

The CTV guys interviewed Leipheimer, McEwen, Wiggins and Horner.

Le Tour de France 2006
The Cycling.TV boys use their technical viewing gantry at Le Tour de France 2006.

A muckle TV camera carries a certain gravitas and riders never seem to ignore requests for interviews. The subjects all chatted away without problem, I’ve spoken to ‘Little Robbie’ a couple of times and despite his ‘difficult’ reputation I’ve always found him polite and articulate.

I grabbed Bradley for a minute, he told me that the first stage hadn’t been too hard, he’d had to work for Casper early on, but at the death Casper is his own-man, no lead-out train required, just bob and weave in the wheels.

I got a wee chat with David Millar too – not one of my best interviews ; “great to be back; felt like I’ve never been away; easy day; typical Tour finale.” I took a load of pics for the site — girls, riders, and local colour — the usual.

The CTV guys wanted to film the roll-out so James was hoisted on to Steve’s shoulders so as he could shoot over the heads of the throng.

The race departed to a huge cheer and it was time for us to get mobile. The route was more or less a ‘straight there’ job so there wasn’t time to waste.

In the Tour ‘road book’ they mark-out the quickest route that you can take to the finish and today we drove the same last 15 k. as the race. It was great. The crowds were hanging-over the barriers, the picnics were set-up on the climbs and it was really a special experience. A very tough finale though, with two really brutal climbs and lots of bumps and bends.

The press room is a big gymnasium today, it’s not as hectic as it was at Strasbourg, but it’s damn hot in here. There were really nice freebees here today — Caisse D’Epargne notebooks, they’ll be great for impressing folk at Dundee track league.

I didn’t watch the finish. I was here, in the press room banging the keys. I watched the last 4 k. on TV though. McEwen is the same kind of sprinter as Casper, small and physical.

They don’t have the same watts as the Boonens or Hushovds, but they are agile, fearless and have ‘zip’ with less body-mass to accelerate. Hushovd finished third and took the yellow jersey back after yesterday’s disaster.

McEwen said to the CTV guys this morning that the organisers should put double barriers at the finish. As well as Hushovd getting cut there was an object hurled into the leaders in the Strasbourg finish and it was bouncing-off riders.

With the Tour moving every day now, there’s much less opportunity to write. I’ve been rattling-out three pieces a day but I think that will have to go down to just one due to time constraints.

Anyway, the CTV guys are winding-up their editing so it’s bolt time; visiting the SRM Power Crank factory tomorrow — I’ll tell you all about it later.