By Kirsten Begg
Tour de France Exclusive
Odometer: 700 km
July 3, 2004
TDF riders seen: 0
of clothing ruined by hotel laundry: 1
Ah yes … the tradition of the Tour returns … using a
Port-a-John for 23 days straight! Within the TV compound there are many
“luxuries” including a shower truck for the TV truck
crews/riggers with Port-a-John and the infamous “mushrooms”.
The mushrooms are like a four-sided open-air urinal molded in green
plastic. These things are dotted around the TV compound and are very handy
for the lads to dash out of the truck, take a leak and then get back to the
show. They used to have round green plastic roofs on them that made them
look like mushrooms so hence the name. Without the roofs they look like a
There are small
waist-high sides to the mushroom so that there is a little modesty but the
guys tend to be a little casual about stepping on and off. Plus because of
all the ex-pros who work in TV I always get a giggle when I walk through
the compound and I see Bernard Thevenet, Pedro Delgado and Eddy Merckx
hopping up on the mushroom. Something about that is just not right! However
at the Tour, speed and immediacy are often the most important thing.
Us girls, well we have
to walk a little further, either to the shower truck or scout out the
nearest Port-a-John Infact the day begins with a quick scouting trip to pin
point 4 crucial daily stops.
|1. The food tent where our
caterers Philippe and Audette create the most incredible lunches. The
food is incredible – not on a
fluffy-glass-wine-glasses-and-starched-tableclothes-scale like in the
French TV lunch tent – but just incredible – great combos
like a strawberry and avocado salad. Lunch really is the highlight of
the day and Philippe and Audette are just adorable. Plus they whip
this stuff up in a parking lot for 23 days straight! They make Martha
Stewart look like a lightweight. So job one – locate the food tent
as with only half an hour for lunch, you want to get there quick.
|2. Appropriately, #2 is
locating the nearest Port-a-John.
|3. #3 is locating the TV
compound press truck. This is so you that every morning you can
collect the previous days results and info pack. This is a pretty
comprehensive thing – not only are the classements in there but
also the fines, medical report, weather report, awards etc. Makes
pretty interesting reading.
4. The day is not complete, nor
can it really start without a perusal of that day’s
“L’Equipe” the French daily sports paper. It may be
in French but my high-school grasp is good enough to get the gist of
what’s going on and the graphics are very well researched
– when you’re doing 23 days of programming it never hurts
to have lots of data. Christian and Regis inhabit the Credit Lyonnais
camper van and hand out newspapers each day to the TV folk. Always
good to pop over and say Hi in the morning and pick up the paper.
Today’s lunch was
fab. A cantaloupe/honeydew melon salad with fresh mint, green bean/tuna and
corn salad, fries (frites J) and chicken “cakes” with a scrummy
sweet chile sauce. All cooked in the middle of a parking lot. Followed by
the daily cuppa and then to work!
Hoping to get away
pretty prompt tonight. We’ve checked out of the nice hotel and now
begin the “new hotel every day” phase of the Tour. We have a
bout an hours drive tonight to our next hotel near the finish line of
tomorrow’s stage in Charleroi.
Yesterday was a long
day: crew call time at the truck was 9 am, we finished about 8 pm and then
had about a 45-minute drive back to the hotel. We only just got back in
time for dinner, which they served very s-l-o-w-l-y. Then another hour or
so working on the script for today’s Pre-Race show. To bed at about
1:30-2 am and then up at 6:30 this morning to be back at the truck for an 8
am crew call! That was a toughy so early on but hopefully we can all catch
up on sleep tonight.
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