Posted by Editoress on 07/22/04
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 6th day at the Tour.
July 22, 2004, Stage 17
Today's stage started in the same place as yesterday's stage, at the base of Alpe d'Huez. It is uncommon for a town to host 2 stage starts, but the Mountain ITT was a definite exception for the Tour. Alpe d'Huez is a classic climb and it really made this Tour special by including it. It is really prestigious for every town to host a start or finish since they get showcased to the rest of the world. They actually love the race to come to town, as it means revenue (you can't find a hotel room within 100km of a stage start) and it also means newly paved roads as well. If there is a road that the Tour is going to go on, and it is a little rough, it gets repaved! The climb on Alpe d'Huez was repaved for this stage just so it would be perfect. All of the lines are repainted on the roads too, so they will look good on TV. Amazing how much the country supports the race.
There was a little bit of chaos at the start this morning as the security around the team buses and the pre-start area was a little lax. There were members of the public swarming all around the team buses causing a lot of difficulties for the teams to get team cars and riders into these areas. I had a chance to check out some Team buses today. In particular, I went on the Saeco bus to see how great the riders have it. The bus is one of the larger ones on the circuit. All of the teams have a bus and some are larger and more palatial then others. The Saeco bus has a seating area like that of regular bus with seats in the front to transport the riders and some staff . Behind that area is a kitchen with a Saeco coffee maker (of course) and a fridge. In the back is an area with a couple of showers, a washroom, and a changing area. There was also a place to lay down if you needed to. This is very typical of most team buses. I have been on a lot of the team buses except Postal (they rarely let anyone other than the team and dignitaries on the bus) and they are all about the same. The only team that seems to be lacking is Francais de Jeux. They have a camper that serves as the team headquarters. One thing I noticed on the Team buses is that the drivers proudly showcase the stuffed Lions that the Yellow jersey wearers get when they are on the podium. It is team bragging rights.
News from the Trek camp today was about the skin suit that Lance and the team wore yesterday. It is a team collaboration with Nike and Trek to create the perfect cycling garment. All of the skin suits are made with mesh on the sides and very upper back, after research showed that the body releases heat in these places the most. The front of the suit is made with a dimpled material that helps to cut the wind and even helps propel the rider in the same way a sail does. In the front of the suit there is a super elastic panel at the waistline, that allows the rider to stand up, and the suit will stretch and not pull down on the rider at the neckline. The edges of the legs and the arms are a very slippery material to ease the air flow. Nike also provides this technology to the leaders of each category, since Nike is the official supplier of the jerseys to the Tour.
The official word from the Livestrong fundraiser is that they have already surpassed their goal of raising 6 million dollars. In fact, they are on their way to 7 million as we speak. Nike donated $1 million dollars and they sold 5 million wrist bands to date. Several large companies have bought 100,000 or more at a time and resold them. Luftansa was a surprise big buyer and Wholefoods on the US was too. I did my part and bought 5.
One final tech note - Lance's bike was too light for the stage yesterday and they had to put a heavier cage on and a computer with a wheel magnet to bring it up the legal weight! Lance had planned to ride with small aero extensions but changed his mind, so the weight had to be made up otherwise. He rode the Madone SL with a right STI and a left downtube shifter to save weight.
It seemed that Lance was out to prove a point today with another stage win. Look for him to really drive that point home with the ITT in 2 days time. I am off to Switzerland (the land of Chocolate) tonight since we are really close to the border.
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