Thursday, May 30, 2024

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 10: Stage 7, Saint-Grégoire – Rennes (ITT)


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How could I ignore my hero Serhiy here in Saint-Grégoire? If I’d had a proper thinking-head on when I did the revue of the course yesterday I would have mentioned him; ‘a strong man’s course’ I said and who’s stronger than the man who rides 56 x 11? Isn’t it a joy to see him forcing that ‘death gear’ along the road, none of that embarrassing high-revving nonsense; face a mask of pain, giving his all — awesome.

It’s great to see him in yellow too, for a team that was down and out when Jan and Oscar exited stage right a week ago. T-Mobile are doing OK — two stage wins and the jersey already.

The Time machines in Saint-Grégoire.

In the chrono today, as well as winning, they placed Rogers 4 th, Sinkewitz 6 th, Kloden 8 th , Kessler 14 th and Mazzoleni 16 th, not bad at all — Kloden to win?

Breakfast was braw today; I didn’t get time to eat last night so I was ravenous come the morning — fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, fresh bread, cheese, pastries, coffee – the biz.

Mission for the day was to do a piece on time trial bikes, I took pics of all the interesting rigs — BMC, Look, Giant, Cervelo, Scott, Orbea, Time, Trek, Giant, Colnago, Specialized and Trek.

Alan Butler, the Discovery Channel mechanic, is great with me – I get in behind the ropes and he tells me about all the new kit. Read an interview with Alan here.

Fresh today were Bontrager tri-bars for George Hincapie’s machine — nice.

There’s also a new Equinox TT bike in the truck but pros don’t like to mess with their position in something as important as Le Tour. I was up at the Saunier Duval truck too, tying to sneak pictures of Millar’s machine, I only got a few before they put a towel over it to stop me. It’s a nice bit of kit; ‘biplane’ forks and bars, brake behind the forks but the graphics aren’t to my taste.

Miller’s bike with a towel to stop photos.

I got a couple of good ‘spy’ shots today – some of the Gerolsteiner riders are riding Swiss Walser frames sprayed-up as Specialized.

I know the bikes well because Franco Marvulli, one of ‘my’ riders in the sixes, rides one and I know the features on them instantly.

A really unusual one was that there was a black ‘Colnago’ on the Rabobank roster which was actually a Giant — hmmm!

I shot around 80 pictures in Saint-Grégoire before it was time to take Rebecca to the airport for her flight home.

The drive to the airport went well and didn’t take long at all; it must be the quietest airport in Europe.

I was sorry to see Rebecca go, she can be a bit of a Diva sometimes but in the main we had good fun and worked well together. This was more than could be said about the walk to find the press room at the finish, it was a Beau Geste job — march or die; for all the marvellous organisation sometimes the signage is simply dire. It’s a cool press room though with good facilities and great catering.

Richard wanted the pictures first so I emailed them off (five at a time or it causes his system problems) — 73 of them to be exact. Then I had my copy to write — 973 words of it.

As the race drew to a close I popped through to watch on the monitors a couple of times.

Brad warms up.

It wasn’t the race we expected – I had Landis second, but to Davie Zee with maybe Big George third.

Honchar is a beast of a boy, he’s won a load of tests in his career and he held the pink jersey In the Giro this year so he’s not that big a surprise.

Third was Sebastian Lang, you would have got long odds on that, fourth was Rogers (the world test champion), fifth was Gustav Larsson and sixth Sinkewitz.

It was a grim day for ‘chrono-team’ CSC; Zabriskie was a distant 13th and Bobby J crashed-out. It’s all going wrong for Big Bjarne in this race.

Leipheimer went like bag of spanners for 96 th at 6-06, worse even than Iban Mayo who was 82nd at 5-37 and Big George’s new tri-bars could take him no higher than 24th at 2-42.

Bradley Wiggins placed 28th at 3-10 and David Millar 37th at 3-24.

I was a bit sad leaving the press room today, it will be the last time I’m in there during this Tour.

I’m going to watch the start of tomorrow’s Saint Meen le-Grand to Lorient, get my pics and quotes then head for Calais.

It would have been nice to visit Lorient again, I raced there back in the mists of time and visited again a couple of years ago when we were at the Worlds in Plouay but it’s a long way to Lorient just to come all the way back. James bought me dinner at the restaurant next door to our Ibis tonight, I think it’s the first ‘proper’ meal I’ve had since Luxembourg. It was nice just to sit and relax for the first time in days.

Anyway, bed time, talk to you tomorrow — from somewhere.