A TdF 2004 Special

By Kirsten Begg
Cycling Historian









A CR/OLN/CCB Tour de France Exclusive


Hotel: 16

July 19, 2004 

Odometer: 4800 km

Villard-de-Lans, France

Stage: 15

Day: 23

100m sprints to shower truck to throw up: 1

Stage 15

Oh sweet rest day! This time it really was a rest day. We didn’t have to drive anywhere or do anything except laze and after a hard couple of days we all needed it.

The La Mongie day was 16 hours but the drive off the mountain was dreamy – best I’ve ever had. That made the nightmare of getting off Plateau de Beille all the more gruesome. A 2-hour drive off the mountain and a further 4-hr drive to the hotel – getting in at 2 a.m. – left us all drained for stage 14.

We all arrived at the truck just knackered and you could tell that everybody was hanging on for the rest day. I was feeling decidedly dodgy and the growing feeling of nausea had me a tad concerned. Just before we went on the air, I knew that I had to get out of the truck and leg it to the shower truck. I think I broke the 100 m record, while trying to dodge people wanting to stop and chat and thinking that I couldn’t just throw up by the trucks because they are all so tightly packed that it’s everybodies work area. I barely made it to the shower truck and when I got in all the ladies loos where full so it was a mad dash back down the steps and into the men’s side. A rather humorous visit in the men’s portajohn (I discovered they have seats whereas the women’s one’s don’t) I emerged feeling MUCH better thanks!

So I was dragging a little through stage 14 and spent the whole rest day sleeping, sleeping by the pool, taking 3-hr naps and sleeping. Some of the guys played golf as we were staying at a golf course/club/hotel thingy. But most folks just hung by the pool and sunbathed and dunked in. The sun was wicked hot and I began to wonder how killer it would be to have to race through that stuff. I dunked in the pool about every 15 minutes so heaven only knows what it feels like to race through it.

Needless to say we all have a touch of the lobster about us. Bob has fried his belly but refuses any cream. He’s from NJ and guess they don’t do moisturiser or eat quiche down there.

I have also been trying to teach him a little French. He has learnt a few phrases including “Je t’adore” (always good to teach them the important ones) which because I couldn’t write it down at the time has become “shutthedoor”.

So 6 days to Paris and still some of the best racing to come. If Lance falters one teensie-weensie bit, Basso and Riis will be on him like a ton of bricks plus we have tomorrow’s mountain TT which is always a stage that will turn up the odd surprise. I’m surprised that Mayo is a DNS today as I figured his team might be keeping him in for a shot at Alpe d’Huez but I guess he is fried. We had a laugh on stage 13 saying that it was the Plateau de Bye-Bye for Mayo.

It’s too bad to see Tyler gone – in his column for VN he seems to have it very much in perspective but to be more bummed for his team than himself which is typical Tyler. On the flipside it’s good for the sport to have some fresh faces challenging at the top. The Kloden/Ullrich battle seems to have finally played out unless Ulli can have a stormer on Alpe d’Huez and drag himself back up. But it looks like Kloden is the new leader. All the guys who are challenging are the guys who had very quiet springs. Kloden hasn’t won a race between 2000 and this year’s German National Champs. Basso has been super low-pro bagging it on the last day of the Dauphine’. Mancebo went exactly one year between wins before notching up a stage at the Deutschland Tour so they are all relatively fresh and all in their mid-20’s with a recovery rate that will be a little snappier than Armstrong’s.

So plenty to look forward to – even if I do only see it all on a little TV monitor inside the truck.

More later



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Kirsten Begg (L), Kirsten Gum (R) in the office. Click picture for larger version.