Friday, June 21, 2024

Le Tour de France 2007 – Day 8: Stage 18, Cahors – Angoulême


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It took a wee while to find the hotel last night in Cahors, but it was worth it. It’s an old farm which has been converted to a hotel, wi-fi on the terrace and there’s even a swimming pool too; it’s quite the idylic spot.

We are sharing hotels with an American cycle tour party, we’ve has done a deal with them – ads on the site in exchange for hotel rooms for us on the Tour.

Cracking digs for us this time.
Cracking digs for us this time. Photo©Martin Williamson

Three of the party were sitting near us at breakfast, this morning, oldest guy to other two; “D’you think Lance was a doper?” …Silence!

En route Cahors and the start, a guy has been tail-gating us so closely he’d be as well in the back seat. He passes us, his hazard lights are on, he tailgates the guy in front and pulls-out to pass him on a blind bend, swerving back in because something is coming – crazy, suicidal.

Cedric Vasseur – one cool guy. Photo©Martin Williamson

Cahors, the biggest day of the year for this bonnie, Medieval town. The newsagents, to buy L’Equipe, nice not to have a drugs story on the front page.

A point of interest – the town of Condom is near here, but what we call a condom, the French call a ‘preservative’ – remember that guys, if you meet a French lady – don’t take a haff pund o’ rhubarb and ginger back if she asks you to remember “le preservative.

The Caisse Pinarellos get our vote for the trickest, nicest bikes on the race. Photo©Ed Hood

“Mission for the day” was bikes – top six plus the maillot vert and king of the mountains.

Taking pics of bikes is an art – in the morning at the depart is best, they are clean and the mechanics aren’t too grumpy, but you have to get an individual shot of the bike you want, rows of bikes just ‘bleed’ into each other.

We’ve made photgraphing bikes into a bit of an art. Photo©Martin Williamson

Ideally the background should be a contrasting colour, but sometimes that’s difficult – your usual backdrop will be the team bus. Take the CSC Cervelos, black velo, black bus = not the best.

We had our list of bikes and one by one we nailed them. We already had the Treks of ‘Bert’ – if you read us regularly then you should now who that is, and Levi (Go! Disco! – that’s what you shout, by the way) But we had the velos of Cadel, Carlos Sastre, Haimar Zubeldia (back from the grave) and the highest paid rider on the planet – Alejandro Valverde, to nail.

Plus Tom’s Specialized and Soler’s Cannondale.

Tom’s jersey looks like it’ll keep him cooler than the usual maillot.

One by one we ticked them off; “excusé moi monsieur, un photo, le velo, c’ést possible, s’il vous plait?” We got them all.

Final ‘tick’ on the list was an interview with James Alexander, the QuickStep bus driver – he’s from Forfar, or as the Dundee boys would say Farfarr!

He’s a cool guy, he had Dave, Viktor and I on the bus at Kuurne for a coffee.But this is the Tour and we had to get clearance from the QuickStep PR guy Alessandro; watch Pez for that one too.

We jumped off the bus just before ‘wagons roll’, waved ‘bon voyage’ to James as the circus left town and headed for a café. Café au lait and a cognac – c’ést bon.

Martin chats to Geraint at the start. Photo©Ed Hood

No press room for the boys today, the hotel has wi-fi; it’s hard to explain how happy that makes us. Instead of a the borstal dining-room atmosphere of the salle de presse, we sat by the pool and rattled-off the words and pics for the velos piece and an interview we did with Geraint Thomas .

Sandy Casar won the stage – good news, France needed a stage win.

Dinner was great, a wee brasserie a kilometre from the digs. It’s now midnight as I finish today’s entry.

A big day tomorrow, 55 kilometres ‘alone and unpaced’ as the RTTC used to say. Can Evans leapfrog Contador – I don’t think so; can Leipheimer leapfrog Evans – possible.

Whatever happens, we’ll be there, please join us. And start practising now – “Go! Aussie!”