The day finally came and went. Hard to believe it was February the first time I figured out the route of the team time trial and rode it. I am sure I was one of the first ones, apart from the guys who designed it. Well, I got that going for me at least.
Today’s stage was always going to be important. Time trials of any ilk are opportunities for the strong to gain valuable time, and this one got even more interesting with yesterday’s excellent move from Armstrong, moving him up from tenth to third place in the general classification. In theory, if Astana could pull off a victory today, with more than 40 seconds on SaxoBank (the team of yellow jersey holder Cancellera), Armstrong would be in Yellow after 4 years away from the game. Can you say ‘Disney Movie in the Making…!’
But lets go back to the beginning. This is, what I later found out from the internet, the starting ramp for the riders, about 500 meters from my place.
I’ve got no idea what these donkeys are doing on the Place de la Comedie, but the scene just begged to be photographed.
I walked along the team buses, park on the square, and found that this spot is potentially a very good place to see your sweaty favorites. Here are the bike stands (for lack of a better word after a couple beers…) that the teams warm up on.
Some flash time trial bikes by one of the buses.
I didn’t see the kitchen sink, but it could be inside. Now I know how the teams always have fresh bike shorts every day though…
Later, we installed ourselves along Rue Foch, near our very own Arch de Triomphe.
This guy is always at the Tour. Maybe it’s a good place place for recruiting…?
One of the many teams we took identical pictures of flying down Rue Foch. This one has particularly cool gold helmets!
After going back home for a bit of Eurosport coverage we were back on the road for the final three teams. First, SaxoBank and the yellow jersey of Cancellara.
Then the Columbia team and the green jersey of Cavendish.
And finally Astana, with Lance & Co.
And how did it end, you ask? Well Astana did indeed win the stage, 18 seconds over the 2nd place team of Garmin-Slipstream. They also beat SaxoBank by…40 seconds! I suppose there was some mad micro-calculating for a few seconds because it turned out that it wasn’t quite enough, and Cancellera holds on to yellow. Still, Armstrong is zero seconds back, with four other teammates in the top ten overall. Tough luck for Disney though…I hear Sony has the movie rights.