A TdF 2004 Special

By Kirsten Begg
Cycling Historian









A CR/OLN/CCB Tour de France Exclusive

Hotel: #1

Odometer: 700 km

July 3, 2004 

TDF riders seen: 0

Liege, Belgium

Stage: (1)

Day: 6

Items of clothing ruined by hotel laundry: 1

Stage: 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 giant juicer.

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.

More later



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