Posted by Editoress on 07/19/04
Photographer Chris Redden is back at the Tour again this year, and has decided to try his hand at writing as well as photos. Here are his impressions from his third day at the Tour.
July 18th, Stage 14
The Tour Depart Village.
The Village is an area at the start of each stage that is only open to special VIPs and the riders. It is an area where riders and select people are able to mingle without the crush of the public and crazed fans. It is also an area where the sponsors are able to showcase their products and treat their VIPs to special treatment.
There are many services available to the riders in The Village. There are barbers so you can get a last minute cut before the stage. There are also cellular phone companies on hand, so the riders and select press can call home or check e-mail. Each region puts out a selection of local delicacies, so the VIPs can try the fare of the area. As always, there is lots of cheese, bread, fois gras and even some wine. I find it a little early for wine at 10 AM, but lots of other people don't! The Village also offers newspapers of every description, so you can catch up on what is going on in the rest of the world. (There are other things going on?).
One other benefit of The Village is that it provides a place for riders to go and just hang out. It is not uncommon to find all of the Australian riders hanging out together sharing a joke, or to see a bunch of Spanish riders chatting about the day's stage or grabbing a cup of coffee. The riders are all friendly to each other and seem to hang out by nationality as well as a by team. You can tell a well-knit team if they are hanging around together when they don't have to.
Postal does not normally hang out in the Village area. They spend most of the time in their Team bus. All Teams have a large bus that brings the riders to the start line and back to their hotel. They use this as their base until it is race time. There is no warm up at the race site for the riders. They either warm up beforehand or use the roll out (the first part of the race) as the warm up. With 150 Ã‹â€ 200+ km in a day, the warm up is not a big deal. Of course, this does not include the TT (Time Trial) stages.
A couple of other notes: For those of you who think the Team riders have it made, they don't necessarily. You regularly see the teams staying at the local hotels with the rest of us. The local Hotel Ibis is always booked with race teams and we saw 2 teams staying at a hotel last night that advertised rooms for 35 Euros per night (which is one or two star hotel). On a positive note, each team has their own laundry facilities built into their trucks. As a rider you get your laundry done for you every day.
Riders also don't get new tires every day on their bikes, contrary to what you might think. Tires only get replaced when they are damaged or worn. The team only has so much allotted to them for the year. It is cool to look into the back of a team truck and see all of the bikes (50+) hanging there.
Tomorrow is a rest day, so we are off to the beach! Gotta get rid of this Canadian whiteness.
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