The Bigest Schleck Bro will be celebrated at home by a family dinner it seems. So... enjoy your day Steve and see you soon at races!!
The Bigest Schleck Bro will be celebrated at home by a family dinner it seems. So... enjoy your day Steve and see you soon at races!!
Pic byLeonie Garssen
14. stage, Colmar - Besancon, 199 km.
Saturday 8. july, 8.53 am, Hotel Macur, Colmar
(Rikke's note: I'll skip the first part here. He talks about how fare they have gotten, how people start to get camp haddock, and the daily life in the tour. We jump in when he talks about the conversations the night before.)
I remember that we talked about Kurt. Someone had heard that he had gotten succesfully through his surgery and of course we are all happy to hear that. We talked a little about that it's actually incredible that there aren't more crashes. With 180-200 riders in the peleton there has to be someone always who doesn't focus.
And then of course we had the mandatory gripe of the food. An eternal returning subject. Several are unhapy because we get served too much chicken at this tour. Especially Fabian who is still convinced that he will get feathers and wings of all that chicken. My opnion is clear: chicken is the best meat for us and we can't sit here and eat steaks every night. And our chef is not allowed to cook fish because there are some who doesn't like that. He has an ungreatfull job our chef, Søren. Now we are eight guys on the team and that gives eight different opinions on what to eat. It's not exactly easy for him.
But we gotta be happy that we got Søren and that is not only because of the food. It saves us time that we have him. We can tell when we are eating with other teams. They often wait for a long time for their food while we get our food immediatly. And then of course we are sure that he uses good commodity where other teams often gets crap.
11.04 Hotel Mercure, Colmar
It's unusual we have so much time in the mornings. The stage doesn't begin before 12.30 so I still have one and half an hour to kill. It's pouring rain outside. That's a bummer. And it doesn't exactly help with motivation with crap weather when you are tired too. I now send a great wish for better weather doing the next 1,5 hours. Otherwise it will be nasty again today. 199 km in cold weather is not exactly my favorite thing to do.
At breakfat I noticed that there are others who has reached the foodcrisis. Again I didn't really feel like eating anything but I did get something down. But Frank Schleck had a big problem I could tell. He looked like the food was about to make him sick. He didn't really eat anything. I don't know if he's acting a little sometimes to get attention. They are like that sometimes the stars. [Note by me: LOL]
Ah Chris, be nice now. But he really looked like someone who didn't wan't to take in any nutrtion. It looked bad.
Yesterday Julian Dean and Oscar Freire was hit by shuts from an air rifle. We talked a lot about that this morning and the newspapers are full of it. When I became a profesional cyclist I never considered that I had do be prepaired to be shut at. That is completly insane that people begin to shoot towards the peleton with a rifle.
Maybe the tour is bigger and more crazy than any other bikerace but apperantly that is not always positive.
I also saw a man yesterday running about with a huge cannula - apperantly it was some sort of protest against doping. I just don't get why people go out to watch a bikerace when they hate it so much. I don't get the idea in that.
Lately there has been a lot of talking about children. Yes of course it is mostly the parents in the team. I don't really have to much to add here. I think they miss them so much so they have to talk about them now. And exchange anecdotes about children.
Here after the Tour Fabian is going to try and be alone with his children for the first time. He thinks that's no problem. But then Stuart, Jens and Nicki starts to share their experiences with him. And they have a lot.
Jens told that you should never ask your children to keep a secret because then they'll immediatly do the oppesite. He has sometimes let his children drive the car into the garage - of course in the circumstances that it was a secret and they shouldn't tell their mother. . They agreed about that - and immediatly afterwards they went straight into the house and anounced proudly and happy what they had just done to their mother. [Note by me: yes, I onfirm! you can't tell secrets to your children, def.]
10.18 pm, Hotel Novotel Besancon
This is how it should be every night. Now it was really worth being in the tour.
We have a danish meeting here at Sørensen and Sørensen's room. Our good friend and mate Brian Vandborg has dropped by so now we are drinking a little beer and have a talk about the situation in the world.
Man it sounds like a scene from some kind of an allotment. And it feels like it too. We just miss the flagpole and a red checkered dew. Brian had a beer with him - a Leffe - which he has generously shared with us. Three men sharing one beer - that is probably allright we think. It's not impressive how much we get from that.
Brian has paied one of his soigneurs from Liquigas to make sure that he gets a beer every night. We think thats a good initiative - especially when he then decides to share it with us. Us danes are known for being good at socializing and it's after all more cozy to talk drinking a beer instead of an tepid spring water.
We talk about the race and how the stage was done today. But also some tall tales from our common interest: Casper and the mad mandrill agreement (danish commic series).
And a little about another common interest - Mark Cavendish - who we all agree we don't like too much. Today he came in with the grouppetto and then he turned to the right straight after the finish line to go behind the scene because he still thought he had the green jersey. But the doormen wouldn't let him in "Sorry monsieur Cavendish but we already have the people we need." The norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd had in an artful way gotten enough point on the stage to take the jersey. That must have been embarrasing for Cavendish. We had fun.
I'm happy that Vandborg was chosen for the tour. We have some good talks him and I (Rikke's note: They will be teammates at Saxo Bank next season). Also doing the stages. And then it has happened a couple of times that I have saved with a snack from our feedbag.
(I've skipped a peace on a page here. He tells what happens at the stage and we already know by tv).
It seemed a stage without drama except for the bad weather. But suddenly the rumour spread that there has happened an accident. One of the motorbikes should have collided with a woman from the audience and she should be dead.
Later that was confirmed. The woman has died - just because she went out with the family to have a good day and watch a bikerace. That shocked me a little. Especially here afterwards where you really have time to think about it. This kind of experience put things a little into perspective. And makes something as small as a bikerace unimportant.
We have often talked about and seen examples of when it almost goes wrong. The motorbikes has gone too close to the edge and there are so many people in the side of the road who only look for the cyclists and not what else comes along.
And then of course as we think that we have everything in order with Jens in the breakaway he suddenly comes back to the peleton. Completly red in his german face of anger. He had gotten a puncture up in the breakaway and couldn't get the needed help from the neutral mavic service car. And since our own car hadn't gotten up there yet Jens was forced to go back. He wasn't happy about that. (Rikke's note: I know where the clip of this situation is actually on danish tv2 I'll point it out for you if you wnat to have it. Note by me: YES, sure. Thx!)
When the breakaway got away a lot of tactic went on in the peleton. AG2R didn't really know if they would defent the jersey or not. They also had the Irish Nicholas Roche in the breakaway who might had a chance to win. In the end Astana goes to the front without really doing too much work. Mostly to show who decides here.
Therefore we now had a situation where Armstrong and his teammates were leading against his old teammate and friend George Hincapie who is in the brakeaway. Things like that is noticed and talked about in the peleton.
Speaking of Armstrong I actually talked a little to him before the start today. I meat him at the signing and he said to me that he thought that I should take it easy today and not go as fast as I did yesterday because that had hurt in his legs. Firstly: that is not up to him to decide. On the other hand it was nice to hear. Especially from him. He said with a smile but I don't think he would say like that if he din't mean it. (Rikke's note: I like the fact that Chris did't see through this. This was obviously tactical and probably meant to psyke Andy and Frank and make them regret that they told Chris to stop again)
That man has an incredible aura of respect surounding him. He's huge. Even though he looks like something the cat dragged in with his black socks in his shoes.
Later on the stage we see the Garmin-Columbia conflict come to the surface. Hincapie was in front and was close to take yellow and it looked like AG2R couldn't defend the jersey anymore. Suddenly I see Garmin go up in front with Zabriskie and others. It was a bit weird that they went in front now - but everyone in the milieu knows that there are some personal conflicts between the two teams. And now Bob Stapleton was set to get a blow.
And he got one - or rather Hincapie did. A shame to miss the yellow jersey because of five seconds because of some personal conflicts you have nothing to do with.
I'm excited to see what that will mean for tomorrows stage that Columbia lost everything today - both yellow and green.
The danish meeting is over for tonight. Vandborg has gone to his room to go to bed. Have I forgotten something about todays conversation at the dinner table?
Oh yeah, we talked a little about who is the most irritating rider in the peleton. We have heard that Garmin-Slipstream has made a top ten list and that it is lead hugely by Linus Gerdemann. We have to check if Flecha and Botcharov is on the list. And "II Duque" - the columbian guy Leonardo Duque from Cofidis. Otherwise we have to get them on there.
I think that was it. The hightlights of todays conversations. They aren't too sofisticated at the moment.
Fabian Cancellara confirms with the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project
Pic by Gert Cuypers
13. stage, Vittel - Colmar, 200 km.
Friday 17. july, 8.30 am, Hotel Le Saint-Christophe, Neufchateau.
When i opened my eyes I had to stay in the bed for a little while - to orientade a little. Some days the eyes wake up 20-30 seconds before the rest of the head. And then I have to wait until the head has put in the connector so I can find out if I'm in the room from yesterday night or tonight. Or at home in Luxembourg? Or in Hammel? How is it? Where is the door? And the toilet?
I can easily wake up in my apartment in Luxembourg and think that it's another hotel room. And when I have to explain to someone where I have been then I can often remember the hotel but not in which town it is. Or the opposite - I remember in which town I have been in but not which hotel we stayed in.
It happens often that I look for my things in the wrong corners. "I think I put my suitcase by the minibar or was that yesterday?"
Sometimes it also happened that I almost creeped down to Nicki in his bed if for example we have swopt places from how we usually sleeps. Normally he is not too happy about that. I think it has to be some kind of a work default you get by travelling so much. Last year I travelled 193 days. Distributed - in up rounded numbers - 90 days in my apartment in Luxembourg, about 70-80 days in DK distributed between my gilfriend in Copenhagen and my parents in Hammel. And the rest of the days in 2008 I travelled.
Therefore I don't have a place I call home or my base. Home is where I put my hat on the wall. Or more precise where I put my suitcase. Often I have heart people go "It will be nice to get home to my own bed." I don't recognize that.
I think you as a cyclist just put up with that you are always going somewhere. For example I always have a ready packed suitcase somewhere with all the most importent necessities. Then I can leave with a short notice.
But the most stressing month in the year for me is actually November, when I often have nothing on the schedule that includes traveling. Very weird.
That is not a live I will continue when I have ended my career . As an example I can't see myself as a fulltime sportsdirector on a cyclingteam. I have tried way too many times to come home from a race - be home for 12 hours - and then leave again. I can not bear to do that anymore when the career is over.
This morning is one of those mornings where I have to find out where I am. Probably because of everything that happened yesterday with Nicki's victory.
It's a little crazy to think about. I shared my room with the stage winner tonight.
I get out of bed and prepare myself for the breakfast.
9.50 am, Hotel Le Saint-Cristophe, Neufchateau
I'm back on my room after the breakfast.
It was a battle to actually eat something at all. And that worries me a little that I already now - after only 12 stages - I lost my appetite.
There was the usual stuff to chose from. Primalery rice, omelet, smothie with added protein and then our chefs homemade oakmeal with different oils, nuts and banana mash.
Rice I can never eat in the morning that is excluded. I can simply not swallow it. On the other hand I normally like a portion of Søren's (the chef) oakmeal and a smothie. But today it was hard. I just looked at it and didn't feel hungry or full. I just didn't feel like eating. That's a stage you always reach in a three weeks stage race. But it had never happeded to me to reach it already after 12 stages. It has to be the bodys reaction to the mistreatment you put it through. It pulls the plug on different areas. I have lost my apetite completly. So I strugled to get down a smothie just to actually eat something. I know I have to get something down otherwise there is no energy to use on the bike. And then you can just forget to complete a stage race like this.
Now I'm back on my room. We have takeoff in a minute. Unfortunatly the weather is shit.
3.52 pm Col Du Platzerwasel, Alsace.
I was waiting for that message and finally it came. "Chris, we want you in the front to lead. Just go full gas." So I go to the front and lead the peleton at the toughest climb on the stage today.
Platzerwasel is a hard categori 1 climb where we have talked about doing something today. So I'm pretty happy to be told to go up and work. Firstly I have despite the cold good legs and secondly it gives me the possibility to get a little warmer.
It's Andy who has given me the message to go to the front. He feels ready to do something and that is as we planned. But suddenly something unexpected happens. Frank comes up and tells me to stop. He donesn't want me to sit and lead the peleton. And at this point I've only been leading in max. two minutes.
"But I was just told to go up and lead. Would you please agree about something?" I feel the frustration grow inside of me. It irritates me that they can't agrre about the tactics. But it irritates me even more that I now again just have to sit and reserve myself. I feel good and I can go full gas over this climb. And I'm really motivated to really go hard by now.
I started to yell a little at Frank and that is of course a mistake. I don't hope you saw that on tv because of course it looks stupid that we are fighting. But I'm frustrated. I just try to help them and then it seems like they don't want my help.
(Rikke's note The rest of this chapter Chris is in a really bad mood and describes what happens at the stage, that Linus Gerdemann makes another weird decision, how cold he is, that he is really hungry at dinner and gets a visit from two danish friends. I'll skip that)
But snow arrived everywhere: in the City (pic 2 by Ville de Luxembourg fb) and of course out the windows of Leopard True Racing (pic 3 by Ken Sommer and Davide Cottam).
They well made their homework as Nygaard and Andersen said, but still keep some secrets for a more impressive show (when, where, what?? making us super curious seems exactly their aim).
Maybe will have Fabian packed and ribboned as a Xmas present... or a pink-leopard-nothing-of-that-at-all team kit as an unritual Epiphany? We'll see.
Snow arrived brutally also on cross races fields and ice with it (pic 4 by Bert Geerts) . Sunday's Superprestige in Gieten was great but dangerous and Bart Wellens badly crashed. "The Belgian slipped on a piece of ice " Cyclingnews writes "and went head first into a ditch, landing on his neck with his head to one side. His immediate groans of pain proved he was still alive. The worst damage was done to his helmet, which was broken into a number of pieces." http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/wellens-not-seriously-injured-in-horrendous-cross-crash
Fortunatelly it is better then expected: I and my son were watching the race and were definitely shocked because ok he was alive but kept showing an awful pain.
I like cyclocross but prefer road cycling because all that tourning around in the same place it's a bit boring: in a road race you cross villages, country and mountains, fields and towns. And also: I am not a specialist, maybe I'm wrong, but games seems more closed to me in cyclocross. Three or four opponents and a peloton without hopes. In a road stages race we have a lot of 'underplots': breackers, stage winners, GC upset by a crash or an attack, relatively obscure racers suddenly projected in the light...
I'd like to know your opinion here, because really I watch a bit of cyclocross now and then and don't arrive to know it properly. But I like to debate. BDW do anybody know if Andy ever took part in cyclocross races, maybe when younger? I saw him on a MBK but never in a cyclocross contest. MBK is good to train in the winter, when snow is all around and a trip in the forest is better then a risky go on icy roads.
I wonder if Andy and Jakob are missing Fuerteventura now - Team Saxo Bank-Sungard is there - looking through that window... Crans Montana is a nice place, but I guess they would prefer something warmer.
Pic by Leonie Garssen
[Note bt Rikke] Chapter 21 the jounalist (Dennis Ritter) writes again. Here he talk about Nicki Sørensen the other dane on the team. He won stage 12 in this tour so he talks about the victory of the watercarrier. I will skip this and go to chapter 22. But now the chapters begin to be really long. In this chapter I will again skip the end. It is about how much Nicki means to Chris and how he helped Chris win a stage in Dauphine L.
Can sombody tell me whats happening?
"Good friends can do everything together - but only best friends can be together and do nothing."
Winnie the pooh
12. stage, Tonerre - Vittel, 211 km.
Thursday 16. july, Hotel Kyriad, Appoigny
The morning where Nicki wins the stage.
When like me you have slept 9,5 hours you shouldn't complain. I do it anyway because I woke up earlier than planned. I did that because the parking lot is just outside our door. The hotel is a typical motel like where every rooms have the entrance to the parking lot. There is our truck of course. And our mechanics have to work in the mornings. That made a lot of noise. A shame because you really need all the sleep you can get.
I feel fine today even though the legs are sore and I had a hard time trying to go to sleep last night. It's weird that you can have troubles falling a sleep when you are this deadbeat.
Nicki and I were talking a little this morning. He would really like to get in the brakeaway today and we actually thinks both of us that the chances for the brakeaway to go to the finish today is pretty big. The past two days have been pretty easy. We almost feel both of us that we are looking forward to get started again.
On most hotels there are more than one cycling team staying together and tonight we stayed with Rabobank. That created a little scene at dinner last night. The spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha came to our table last night. We have had some controversials along the way. He is really a fool in the peleton. He can be a fine guy otherwise but in the peleton he is anoying. Pushing in weird moments and when we are a couple of guys leading then he sometimes goes between and that kind of stuff.
Yesterday there was an episode and that led to a major diskussion. Flecha came over afterwards to continue. He didn't think he had done anything wrong but Frank Schleck and Gustav Larsson said he had. And then suddenly a big fight in Italian had begun. (Note by Rikke: One from Spain, one from Luxembourg and one from Sweden but yet the fight in Italian Note by me: yes, coz Frank speacks it very well, Larsson lives in Italy and Spanish is similar). Nicki and I shook out heads and Laurens Ten Dam and Grischa Niermann did the same. The four of us agreed that we could just go out on the parking lot and arrange a fight so they could get it over with. They were really excited.
But that's how it is. There is a lot of pushing moving and even hitting in the peleton. And Flecha isn't really nice in the peleton. Thats why he is so unpopular. But that was yesterday night. Now we are soon going out to do some bikeracing.
5.18 pm, main road D 18 by Vaudoncourt.
Maybe I should just go in to a cafe and see the finish? And then finish the stage afterwards? The thought is maybe not the most serious I've ever had but I do have it.
I know that there are seven men up in front and that one of them is Nicki. Then I don't know anymore and the lack of information is driving me crazy.
In a long time we haven't really been able to hear anything on the radio. Until now our tactics has been followed to the smallest detail. We had a long tactic meating in the bus where our roles were defined. I as usual had to stay calm and do my work taking care of Frank and Andy. Fabian was tired so he was permitted to take it easy. Stuart was welcome to try and get in a brakeaway if he could. Jens, Gustav and Nicki were free to go. They had to do everything they could to get in a brakeaway. Apperantly Brian Holm has said to Bjarne that Columbia-HTC woun't lead today and that means good chances for a brakeaway.
And then Nicki succeded in getting away but it wasn't without hard work.
The first 80 km was in full speed. Really insane tempo and people attacked to the left and right. People were at the limit.
At one point I've ended up to far to the back in the peleton and I agree with myself that I had to get a little forward. That I did on the next 30 km which just shows how fast the speed was.
When I then was okay up in front I hear in the radio that Nicki has ended up too far down in the peleton and he is called down to the car for water. Later he came up to me overloaded with bottles and I help him the rest of the way up. At this point I can tell there is something changed. He got a killer look in his eyes. I think he is pretty pissed because he was send down for bottles and now there is no stoping him. He wants to get in that brakeaway. A typical reaction from a cyclist. We drive best in anger.
Shortly before this a small group has gotten away and now everyone tries to get up to them. In the moment where Nicki attacks I try and help him as well as I can by going out to the right and block the road. I don't exactly push people off the road but it's close. I block the road so that noone can follow him.
And luckly he got up there. But now that is some hours ago and we have heart almost nothing on the radio since then.
Please, can somebody tell me what is happening?
11.22 pm, Hotel Le Saint-Christophe, Neufchatau.
Nicki is totally batty. For him stage 12 has almost lasted for close to 11 hours from the start in Tonerre at 0.25 pm to now. The entire evening has gone with interviews, medias, celebration, talk and more medias. So it's actually not before now we have time to sit down and talk about what has happened.
We are in the bed talking as usual. All together most is as it usually is - except for the fact that now one of us is a stage winner. It's so big that I'm almost speechless.
Nicki tells me of his wild, crazy day and I tell him about mine.
He still didn't realize what happened. And we agree that he probably will not before we are back in Denmark. We decide to turn on the computer and go to tv2.dk to see the last kilometer. Nicki got goosebumps on his arms when we see him cross the finish line in slowmotion.
We talk a little about diffrent peoples reactions to the fact that he won. All sorts of people have gratulated him and told him how great and decerved it was. Nicki's wife Helle was proud and happy for him. On the other hand it took more to impress Ida one of his daughters when he called home earliere this evening. Ida often ask her dad why he always loses the races he races. But today dad could tell her that he won. She didn't really know if she belived that. On the other hand she was really interested in telling about all the candies she had gotten tonight at home. She didn't really understand why they suddenly was served cake and candy but she thought it was really nice.
There are lots of things to think about. I tell Nicki how frustarting it was to do the stage blinded. We didn't get any information on what was going on up in the front. Mostly because there wasn't any radiocontact. With only 20 km to go I finally get an update. Here I get to know that Nicki has left the group in front. A message that gives me a boost of morale and fighter will but on the same time makes me completly absent on my own bike. I don't hink about my own stage the last 20 km. I don't see anything and I don't hear anything and I'm probably dangerous for anyone else behind me. My mind is with Nicki. When there is again a little too long between the updates I really feel like going in to a cafe to watch the finish on tv. Suddenly the radio starts coming alive agian. New message: Nicki has attacked alone again and there is 5 km left. "Shit man, he must have diamonts in his legs today" I think. This could end with something really big.
Another short message: "It looks good." Short and dry. And then silence.
I can't stand this. Whats going on? say something for heaven sake!
I have to ask. Nicki has won the stage.
In this moment I just get indescribable happy. The last part of the stage is one big blur for me because I only think about how awesome this is for Nicki. I'm completly in my own world and I just wanna get to the finish in a hurry. At one point Fabian comes up to me and drags me out of my sheers fog. "Hey Chris, just take it easy okay? Realx. The stage is almost over."
I'v probably been all tensed up as if I was about to sprint for the victory. By the way a few km before this I had the weirdest puncture ever. I reach behind me to get something in my pocket. When I get my hand back before me a pin has is stuck in my glove. Before I get to remove it it falls of and directly down in my front tire with the sharp end first. Well I've gotten a new front tire and got back to the peleton alright. Back in my fog of happiness for my roommates victory.
A couple of days ago we had talked about Nicki's contract possibilities and how good it would be with a good result here. His contract expire after this season and the next he signs might be the last.
For me it was extreemly frustarting to get to the finish and the not be able to express my feelings to Nicki. When I come to the finish he has already been taken behind the scene for the ceremony. I only want to find him and congratulate him but that is not possible. I go to the bus and of course the mood is exstatic. But I still think it is frustrating to have so many feelings I can't express. We get back to the hotel and I go up at my room - and then I'm just alone. Can't express my happiness, can't relax.
Nicki comes back to the hotel late because of the pressconference, interviews and dopingtest. The first time we see each other after the victory is when I'm leaving after my massage and Nicki is on his way in. We meet in the door. I give him a big hug and tell him congatulation. And that I tried to get behind the scene to tell him congrats but that it was not possible. We agree to take a long talk at our room later.
At dinner the spirit is high as always when we win. We drink champagne and sing "Happy birthday to you" even though noone have their birthday. I don't know how that tradition has developed but it could be something Fabian has started.
Nicki isn't there too much himself. It's hard to be the stage winner because there is duties and media all the time. At dinner there were lots of cameras by our table and Nicki had to go out for an interview. I think it was for Danish Radio.
I tell Nicki that I have a friend who has send me a message from Italy. Here there had been 60 danes at a camping place. They had gone bananas when he had won and doing the finish they had been screaming and cheering as maniacs. The other guests there had no idea of what that was all about. We talk a little about how cycling can unite people who woulnd't meet otherwise. It's great.
I feel that Nicki is happy for his victory. But he is also happy that all the fuss is over and he is back in the room. It is not exactly his preference with all this media and attention.
When I put my head at the pillow I feel my head tingle a little. Besides the champagne we have gotten a little beer. That's enough when you are in the middle of a hard stage race.
I love the winter in the country when the sun shines: trees are almost nacked, tracks are covered in amazing colors by fallen leafs and the air is transparent, clean, crossed sometimes by hunters decoys or dogs bark. The lake were we use to go in the summer is often frozen and reflects a pale silky light.
Today I went to buy some Xmas stuff with my son. We have a new livingroom so we want a new 'sky' for our crèche and some decorations. The commercial mall near our home was very crowd and we had to fight to enter and exit shops. Xmas lights are still off but already placed and in shops windows are Xmas since many weeks.
Usually I'm sceptical about all that but this year feel really like to celebrate and enjoy. I'm not scandalized by the increasing secolarization of Xmas: it goes together with its globalization. That means a global Xmas bussiness, no doubts, but also a part of a global culture that new medias contribute to build, for young people specially. Nothing to do with Christinity but maybe lots to do with an universal syncretic spiritualily.
But that was Xmas at the begining: the holyday of light in the darkest day of the year, the celebrating of re- birth when the earth dies and so definetely the waiting for spring and hope when you feel lost and tyred by all.
As a mum, I like to think that Xmas is the birthday of a baby. Family is the most important thinks in our life, really: bond of love and promise of future. What a sweet thought...
Crisis-meeting and Kurt's Goodbye
Weird morning. Today we had to say goodbye to Kurt who has to go home for sugery. That made the mood at the breakfast pretty sad. We actually only got to say goodbye to him and wish him a good trip home. He was on his way to Paris and then from Paris to Norway.
And then suddenly there was an empty chair. That definatly cancelled of the party spirit.
The empty chair wasn't really empty too long before B.S. came over and sat in the chair. He wanted a meating about the morale on the team and the mood. He thinks it has gotten a nugde down and we all have a responsibility to keep up the good spirit for ourselves and the team.
It is actually true that the morale has been a bit low in a couple of days. Bjarne seems to be in a really bad mood and especially the Schleck brothers feels that they can't really aproach him. B.S. explains that Bjarne has been stressed about a lot of things and that we should try and talk to him and open up.
There is a lot of frustrations going on about all sorts of small things. Of course this with Kurt is serious. But also small indifferent things which is only because people are getting tired. Fabian and Andy complain about the food a lot. Here this morning Andy was very frustrated because he was served an omelet with tomatoes and he doesn't like tomatoes. He thinks Søren the chef should know that. And then there is a lot of talk of Astana. Can we or can't we beat them?
I just think that B.S. overreacts in such a situation by actually call in for a meeting. Of course that kind of frustration shouldn't develop but it wasn't really anything special. In these situation B.S. always use his soldier phrases like "We are on a mission" (Note by Rikke: Andy has adopted that one I can tell on different interviews he has done :P) and that we have to "Continue that mission even though we have lost a friend in the field" and things like that. It was a little too much.
On the other hand it was nice to talk through things and to talk about how we can keep up the morale. But I think we are pretty good at that. It is just a little griping. And you have to gripe as a cyclist.
Right now I'm preparing myself for takeoff from the hotel. I feel fine, fresh and happy despite our talk at the breakfast. I have had good use of the restday the day before yesterday and the not so hard stage yesterday.
I think - after a hard first week - I've started to get my confidence back. I've gotten into a rythm now and I've survived the first mountains and stress. Now I think the peleton will calm down a little.
7.17 pm, Hotel Kyriad, Appoigny.
It was an okay calm stage today. You know, when people actually were at their bikes!
It a was a bit of a loco start today with the first crash already in one of the first towns. It was Christian Vandevelde who crashed and I actually think he hurt himself pretty badly. Later on the stage one of the balloon gates fell down ontop of us when we were passing underneath it. That crash split the peleton in two and the race was neutralized until the gate had been removed. And then very shortly after this a new crash with 70 km/h. here two men got away and then the rest of the day was okay calm in the chase of those two. And luckly no more crashes.
We had Fabian and Frank down in the last big crash but they didn't get hurt too much. In that conection Frank Schleck was completly sure that he saw a snake. Not like from a bike but a real living snake. I don't really know if he hit his head but he still claims here in the evening that he almost ended up on top of a red snake.
Later there was actually a few more who were close to go down - including me when a drunk ass from the audience stumbled out on the road in front of me.
But all together a calm day. I could relax in the peleton. There wasn't really any wind. So another good day where I didn't have to use too much unnecesary energy.
Before the start there was a good spirit in the bus even though it had been a strange morning with B.S. crisis meeting and Kurt's goodbye.
The talk in the bus was about stories from our youth. Today there are som many cases of teenagers who go bananas and kill eachother. We talked about when we were young the worst we did were to steal apples from the neigbours garden. We also called Kurt to wish him a good trip home. He was at the security check in Paris where he were to takeoff with a plane to Oslo and then from Oslo to Molde where he will get a surgery tomorrow.
Right now I'm at the massage table. We got away from the finish pretty quickly and went to the hotel which is I have to say a bit of a shitty hotel. Right outside our room is the truck with the compressor and that makes a lot of noise. I don't hope they will turn that on tomorrow at 7 am. that would be really anoying.
German rouleur Robert Wagner and Danish sprinter Martin Pedersen join
In the pic Martin Pedersen
Liberty equality - and a broken collarbone
10. stage, Limoge - Issoudun, 194,5 km.
tuesday 14. july 10.08 am, Hotel Le Green Saint-Lazare, Limoges
Yaaawn! 10,5 hours of sleep this night. I think you can call that to sleep deeply through. If I need an excuse for something later today then I don't think I can use lack of sleep.
I just came back from the breakfast. Man it was good with a restday yesterday. I already feel more fresh even though my first thought when I woke up this morning was "Oh no, why is the restday already over. It was way too short"
But the motvation will come when I click in my pedals and when I have gotten a cup of coffee in the bus, then I will be there.
After my marathon of sleep I was the last one to come down to breakfast of course. Therefore I ate breakfast with Jens Voigt this morning. He is always late in the morning. And here I got to see something about Jens I didn't know. I thought I knew everything about him because we get close to eachother on these trips. But he told me how he likes to organize his food. As an example: here this morning he was having a slice of bread with marmelade and a peace of sausage he likes. Very focused he took one bite of the bread slice and then one bite of the sausage. And then he proportionated the bites so he in the end - and that was very importent - had one bite of sausage and on bite of the bread slice left.
His food has to be organized. Like when he goes to a restaurant and as an example get a steak and potatoes. He always makes sure that he has two potato bites and two bites of the steak left in the end. And then it really irritates him if then his wife just wanna taste the steak because the system is ruined.
The world would be a boring place without Jens Voigt. The other day he was close to drive our SD Dan Frost to madness when we had to check if our radios worked. Dan couldn't get in contact with Jens so he kept on calling "Jens, Jens .. Your radio isn't working. Sombody has to tell Jens that his radio isn't working!".
In the end Andy got so tired of listening to this that he called back "Yes Dan, I think we know it by now!"
Actually it showed out that Jens had just forgotten to put in his earplug.
7.12 pm, Hotel Best Western Le Colbert, Chateauroux
Bad forbodings are best when they don't come true. Today it's the Bastille day in France and therefore I had feared a really hard stage. One: it can be really hard to get started after a restday. Two: It was a hard parcour. Three: You always know that frenchmen attacks like hell on the Bastille day. And finally fourth: the radio ban which you could have feared could have given us a stressfull stage.
But it actually ended up being the oppposite. An incredibly easy day with and incredibly easy bikerace. People wouldn't really go. It was almost like an deal to boycott the race. And then it ended up being a really easy day. In some ways I think it was nice to do the stage without the radios. I obviously wote that we should keep them - No doubt about that - but it was very nice for once to do the stage without all the stress from behind. Everyone in the peleton were more happy and relaxed.
Here after the stage I can see on the internet that there has been a lot of debating about how we did the stage today. Prudhomme is pretty angry. But it doesn't say anywhere in the rules that we have to attack to the left and the right of the road in the first 50 km? Or that we have to go 60 km/h from the beginning? Personally I think it was nice to see that we riders stood together for once - to send a common message - instead of just being those who are dragged anout by our necks.
I also like the symbolic value in our actions. That we stuck together on a day like the Bastille day which celebrates the ideals from the french revolution: liberty equality and fraternity.
Unfortunatly it's not everything we can be happy about today. The big negative thing was that Kurt crashed and broke his collarbone. That's very sad for him. We did what we could to help to the finish line but I don't think he will be back on the bike more in this race.
Kurt is very important for the team and a good teammate so it's very sad if he has to go home. I hope the best. Kurts accident of course did that the spirit in the bus was pretty sad. We tried to cheer him up a bit but he didn't exactly look like a man who thought positive thoughts.
The conversations today was about how we raced the race today of course. We agree that the demonstration today was the best way to deal with the ban of the radios. We don't think it's our duty to attack all the time. We decide ourselves what speed we will go with. And also: The days where people could just go full speed all the time is long gone.
Right now I'm on my bed relaxing. Incredibly good it was with an unexpected present of a stage which ended up being a lot easier than expected. You can't really call it a restday when you have gone 200 km on a bike. But for a overheaded brain and sore legs it was good with a day without stress.
Minister for Education says: "Protesting students tried to get inside the Parliement, we'll se what we can do. Meanwhile girls can leave their address to our premier Berlusconi."
Students, Profs, reserchers are protesting and police beated them brutally yesterday in foront of the Parliement.
At the moment in Florence - where I live - there is a fight in the streets and helycopters in the sky. You can see here:
About our beloved Premier I think you are informed.
Andy Schleck looks to be the favourite at the 2011 Tour de France
- By:Daniel Benson
Proud of his 2010 season accomplishments
Regardless of the outcome in Alberto Contador’s doping case, Andy Schleck believes that he can line up at the start of next year’s Tour de France as the number one favourite.
Schleck was pushed into second place by Contador for the second year in a row this year but his performance showed vast improvements from his second place in 2009. Along with winning two stages he wore the yellow jersey for several days and pushed Contador all the way to Paris. He finished just 39 seconds down on the Spaniard in the final classification.
“I think I can go to next year’s Tour as the favourite and that gives me confidence to achieve that goal, to win it,” Schleck told Cyclingnews.
“Since I started I’ve progressed every year and if I carry on that progression from this year to next year then I’ll be the favourite this year.”
Schleck’s start to the season was marred by injury. He was hit by a car in the winter and suffered a knee injury that kept him from training in the build up to the Classics.
However despite three weeks on the bike he found enough form to show flashes of class in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold Race before another strong showing in the Tour de Suisse.
“I was out for three weeks because I had to rest, because in cycling if you’re injured you have to rest. There’s no in between. I had to take my time.
“Then in Pays Basque I was actually feeling pretty good and although I was not 100 per cent in the Classics I was still up there for the victory.”
However the Tour de France was Schleck’s main focus for the year and the young Luxembourg climber was Contador’s only challenger. Since it was announced that Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol, Schleck has made it clear that he does not wish to receive the yellow jersey should the Spaniard be stripped of his title, insisting that he wants to ‘win the Tour de France on the road’. And despite the controversy surrounding the race Schleck is proud of the season he has had. “If I look at the overall season, it’s been pretty good. I reached more or less what I wanted to reach. Of course I wanted to win the Tours but in the end I didn’t but I won two stages which I’m very proud of and second place in the Tour. Last year I was second I was two minutes fifty but this year I was up there for the win. It was a big battle until the end and I never stopped believing. In 2009 I got to the final time trial and knew that I wasn’t going to pull any time back but this year was really exciting and so it was a whole different Tour for me.”
Schleck has already started his build up for next year’s race. Along with moving to the new Luxembourg team with his brother Fränk, he has started his training with the Tour de France his main goal for the season.
“I’ve already started training and I plan to have a better preparation than this year. If I look at the profile for the Tour it suits me perfectly and there’s only one goal and that’s to win that race. That’s the main big goal and that’s what I’m working on.”
Restday in a cloud of fatigue
Monday 13. july 1.16 pm, Hotel Le Green Saint-Lazare, Limoges
I'm in a cloud. Everything is on standby - or happens on in slowmotion. My head is like a remotecontrol where the batteries are empty. I have to press the buttons at least ten times before it turns on.
Supriseingly my legs are feeling good. We have been out on a small training and even though cycling is the last thing you wanna do on a restday it was nice to conclude that my legs are still alive.
Now I look forward to an entire day in horizontal position. A day with rest, rest - and a little more rest.
In a stage race like this we live a little like people who are chronical ill. When we are not on the bike we do everything make everything about rest. Constantly we search for new ways to restore energy. If you can sit you never stand. If you can lie down you never sit. And if there is an elevator it's deathsin to take the stairs - If anyone would ever get that ridiculous idea to do so. On several hotels we have stuffed chairs in the elevators so we can sit down doing transport up and down from the meals.
Nicki and I spent every available second today in the bed. It is unbeliveable how tired you get just because your head has set for restday. That's probably your brain which tries to compensate for 1,5 weeks of stress since morning till evening.
This morning we had a press conference on the hotel. For me and Nicki it wasn't a press conference where our comments will go down in history. Since we reached the finish line yesterday our conversations have been held on an incredible low level. Both legs, brain and toungue have restday today.
Right now I try to build up enough energy to begin the big project for today. I have to get things organized in my suitcase. I have stuffed down too many things in my suitcase and I really don't like that there is chaos in my suitcase. It has to be organized - in contradiction to Nicki who mostly just stuff down things and then hope that he can close the suitcase afterwards.
So I need to get that organized and get all the things I don't need out in our deadbag as we call it. That is the bag where we have all the things we don't need before Paris. A huge project when you walk about in this cloud of fatigue. I think I gotta sleep a little before.
5.26 pm, Hotel Le Green Saint-Lazare, Limoges
Yes! I have just finished the big task of today: to organize my suitcase. Now yet again I'm in my bed - I don't think that is a big suprise - and think about the day. Here tonight I'm more tired than in any other night doing the race so far. That is perhaps weird when it's a restday. But you just get more tired of all this resting.
The head has been at reloading today. It hasn't really done anything big. And my stomach has been refilled. It's icnredible what I have eaten today. Tonight we got mexican food at the dinner and that was delicious. In generel the griping towards the food is growing. But today everyone was satisfied.
Today we had a cosy talk about the tactics for tomorrow. Bjarne has asked us riders to come up with ideas to the tactics for the next days especially for tomorrows stage where we are not allowed to use radios. There are different opnions on the ban of the radios. I think we have to try it out and then not spent so much energy on complaining.
I've been writing with some of my mates from Denmark today and they have told me how big my blog has becomed in DK. It's crazy to think about. Lots of comments and 200.000 visitors. Actually I just write what I think about then and there. Like today where I've spent so much time in the bed I found it naturally to write about the bed. Or actually the linens here in France. They don't really do with carpets (here Chris is talking about the danish version which is stuffed with feathers or other materials) instead they have thin carpets and sheets. So now I have invited Dyne-Larsen (In english it's Carpet-Larsen and he's the main seller of linens in DK) to do something on the french market.
Okay. Status for today. Have organized my suitcase. Written a blog. Eaten all day. And slept. Everything in a cloud of fatigue.
Frank is always sweet talking about his new family and specially Leea. Few days ago he tweeted: "Had a nice evening,with Martine(my wife) and some really good friends,so hard to get up. Leea is sleeping again so better I get ready to ride my bike as long she is sleeping ."
So we know he started training again. Not sure if Andy did the same: do you remember that interview where Little Bro says: "You are stronger then me, in January at the first training camp you drop me on the climbs" and Big Bro replies: "I'm not stronger, I drop you because I train in the morning while you stay in bed"... Ok, if you don't have a family and moreover babies... off season is more about going out with friends...
Frankie didn't train I guess this morning: "Had a small accident" he said "cut on my finger needed 3stiches happy to have a lovely sister in law who fixed me up.thanks Nadine".
She's Martine's sister and a doctor - the same who removed the metal stuff from his shoulder in October.
Cyclisme: Enovos roulera avec les Schleck
De notre journaliste Denis Bastien
Lorsqu'en septembre dernier, lors du point presse donné par la délégation luxembourgeoise avant les Mondiaux de Geelong, Frank Schleck et ses compatriotes s'exprimaient dans les locaux d'Enovos, partenaire de la fédération luxembourgeoise, on n'imaginait pas forcément qu'on retrouverait quelque temps plus tard cette société d'électricité comme l'un des sponsors de la formation emmenée par les célèbres frères.
D'après nos informations, ce sera pourtant bien le cas. À chaque semaine ses révélations. Le 3 novembre dernier, nous apprenions que Maca Loca, une boisson tonifiante suisse, avait permis le rachat de contrat de Fabian Cancellara, évalué à 1,83 million d'euros. Dix jours plus tard, nous révélions la possibilité pour Belgacom, qu'on ne présente plus au Benelux avec ses nombreuses filiales, de devenir sponsor numéro un et quoi qu'il advienne de devenir sponsor tout court. Nous avancions également le nom d'un autre sponsor certain, le Danois Jabra, qui commercialise une large gamme de solutions de casques sans fil.
Cette fois, selon nos sources, c'est bien plus local. Enovos, société d'électricité luxembourgeoise en pleine expansion, aurait d'ailleurs de bonnes raisons de rouler avec l'équipe des Schleck.
Enovos vient, fin octobre, de mettre la main sur une filiale allemande du groupe énergétique suisse BKW FMB Energie AG. Jusqu'à fin 2009, Enovos Allemagne avait fourni uniquement du gaz mais depuis janvier 2010, elle approvisionne ses clients en électricité. Avec ce rachat, Enovos espère doubler ses ventes.
«Issu de la fusion en 2009 de trois acteurs historiques du secteur de l'énergie dans la Grande Région, Enovos International a pour mission, en tant que société de participation du fournisseur d'énergie Enovos et du gestionnaire de réseau Creos, de produire et d'acquérir de l'électricité, de développer son portefeuille d'approvisionnement en gaz naturel et en énergies renouvelables afin de commercialiser et de transporter ces différentes formes d'énergie à destination de tous les segments de clients allant du client privé à l'entreprise industrielle. La force du nouveau groupe réside dans sa capacité à proposer à ses clients l'ensemble des produits et services liés au secteur énergétique à des prix concurrentiels.
Positionnement géographique idéal
Enovos se positionne comme un fournisseur d'énergie indépendant au cœur de l'Europe et veut offrir à ses clients une véritable alternative grâce à des solutions intégrées, basées sur une combinaison judicieuse de produits et de services innovants dans le domaine de l'énergie», communique justement Enovos sur son site internet.
Pas besoin de réfléchir bien longtemps pour comprendre l'intérêt pour Enovos de s'allier à cette nouvelle équipe déjà propulsée numéro un mondial des équipes invitées à rejoindre le Pro Tour 2011 (lire par ailleurs). Pour un sponsor ordinaire, on sait ce que peut apporter, en termes de notoriété et de retombées, l'arrivée dans le cyclisme professionnel de haut niveau avec en point d'orgue, le Tour de France.
De plus, le positionnement géographique de la firme basée à Luxembourg, la patrie des frères Schleck, est également assurée en Europe, avec un Suisse de renom, Fabian Cancellara, les Allemands Voigt, Gerdemann et Wegmann, le Belge Maxime Monfort, pour ne citer que les plus renommés.
Bref, alors qu'on ne connaît pas encore le nom définitif de la formation dirigée part Brian Nygaard et Kim Andersen, son montage de sponsoring se dessine peu à peu. Évidemment, ce n'est pas terminé.
Ces prochains jours, nous en saurons plus sur la structure Leopard True Racing représentée par sa fameuse équipe Luxembourg Pro Cycling, telle qu'elle est encore enregistrée à l'UCI…
Le groupe Enovos International SA dont le siège est basé à Strassen, est né de la fusion de trois sociétés d'énergie importantes, bien ancrées dans leur région- anciennement nommées Soteg, Cegedel et Saar Ferngas.
Enovos International SA est actionnaire d'Enovos Luxembourg SA et de Creos Luxembourg SA, la première est active dans la vente et la production d'énergie, la seconde dans la gestion des réseaux. Chacune détient une filiale en Allemagne (Enovos Deutschland AG et Creos Deutschland GmbH).
Environ 800 employés approvisionnent quelque 180000 clients en gaz et en électricité à travers un réseau de 7500 km de câbles électriques et 3000 km de gazoducs.
Au-delà de son métier traditionnel de fournisseur d'énergie, la société développe de façon substantielle ses activités dans le secteur des énergies renouvelables. Le groupe, composé de cinq sociétés principales, réalise un chiffre d'affaires annuel d'environ 1,5 milliard d'euros.
28,3% des parts d'Enovos International SA sont détenues par l'État luxembourgeois et 10,8% par la Société nationale de crédit et d'investissement (SNCI). ArcelorMittal en détient 25,3%, RWE 19,8%, EON 10,8% et Electrabel 5,1%.
(source : enovos.lu)