Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Le Tour de France 2007 – Day 7: Stage 17, Pau – Castelsarrasin


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Pau, Thursday morning, the sun is out, so that’s a good start. How do we feel? A tad flat, it has to be said, but the show must go on. Over to our left, the publicity caravan is rolling-out, headed for Castelsarrasin. It’s a day for the “baroudeurs” today – the breakaway specialists.

There are five fourth and one third category climbs today, so it’s a hard day’s work – maybe a French win? That would be nice, this Tour could do with a ‘lift’. The Pez guy is out of the office today, checking-out the 2008 Look frames and bikes launch in San Jose – a dirty job, but…

Chris Horner. Photo©Martin Williamson

That means I’m pretty-much left to my own devices, story-wise, although to be fair, Mr. Pestes usually just gives me freedom on what I want to cover each day, anyway.

Yesterday we tried to keep up-beat and whilst we were out grabbing crowd reaction to the Vino situation, we kept it as light and fluffy as we could. The fact is, that I felt a bit foolish after my, “all’s well now that we’ve emptied Vino” piece.

Richard Virenque tells us in perfect English that he “doesn’t speak English”. Ok Tricky, we take the hint. Photo©Martin Williamson

It had no sooner been sent than the Moreni situation developed, only for that to be rendered, ‘common or garden’ by the Rasmussen situation. Today we decided not to skirt around it, but to address it.

It’s up on Pez now – give it a read, it was interesting to hear what all the guys said. Maybe I’m getting soft, but I felt that all of them have had enough and just want to race their bikes in a kit-free world. Let’s hope so.

Dave Millar faces lots of unwelcome questions this morning. Photo©Martin Williamson

It hasn’t been too tough a day today, we didn’t have to get up whilst it was still dark and the start wasn’t a million miles from the hotel.

After our interviews, we rattled the Renault here, to Castelsarrasin, the stage finish.

The press room is very subdued today, there’s not the same ‘buzz’. Contador didn’t start in yellow today, he wore his white jersey and zoomed through the throng this morning, no autographs, no interviews.

He was awarded the yellow jersey this afernoon though, after the stage.

Charly Wegelius’ legs. Photo©Martin Williamson

At the press conference, he got a right kicking – “Do you take drugs?/Were you involved in Puerto?/Do you know Ferrari?/Who is your doctor?/Who is your coach?”

The interesting thing was that nobody in the salle de presse raised an eyebrow; I think that everybody has “Tour drug scandal fatigue.”

We got everything away reasonably early, then headed for Montauban to interview Geraint Thomas.

Time just evaporates on the Tour and it was after 8.00 before we caught-up with the young Welshman.

The publicity caravan. Photo©Ed Hood

The time now is 10.00 pm and I’m “blogging” – I must have got my enthusiasm back.

Did we get a French winner? Nah – Bennati (Lampre & Italy). C’ést la vie.