Tag Archives: Contador

TOUR DE FRANCE – finding a big screen in the Alps

G’day again, Lance.

Here I am with some more vital Tour tips for you…

Try to get to Morzine before 8.30 on Sunday night. You and Alberto Contador should arrive ahead of the others, so the peloton will be relying on you two to find a bar and reserve 188 places in front of a big screen to watch the World Cup Final (a soccer match in South Africa). Ask Alberto to explain it to you. His team Spain will be playing so he’ll know about it.

I’ve done a search on the internet and there aren’t many big screens in Morzine. And don’t expect French TV to show the game. The French public are a bit disappointed with the way their team performed, so I understand French TV channels won’t show any live football for the next four years. All currently scheduled matches will be replaced by replays of the 1998 World Cup Final, which had a more pleasing result*.

However, Morzine is a touristy town, so you could find Sunday’s match being screened in an English pub. Or a Dutch one. Lots of visitors will be interested, so get there well before the kick-off, and take plenty of spare cycling jerseys to reserve good seats down the front.

Paul the Octopus has predicted that Spain will win, which is disappointing to me because I was supporting the Dutch. The Dutch XI have offered to turn up and go through the motions anyway, since tickets and television rights have already been sold and fans expect a bit of a show.

Once the footy is out of the way, Paul the Octopus will be able to turn his attention to Le Tour and tell you what your chances of a podium finish are like. Of course, Paul can’t talk, so he makes his opinions known by eating mussels. It will be interesting to see how well he does, choosing between 188 contending mussels, but his football predictions have been spot on. If he says you’re out of it, you may want to consider an early withdrawal.

*France 3, Brazil 0

STOP PRESS: Ooh Lance, I felt your pain as you fell, and fell behind today! I hope Schleck, Evans and Contador will find you a good vantage point for watching the big game.

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TOUR DE FRANCE – my view from the street

Rotterdam was very excited about seeing you today, Lance.

Hi Lance,

I hope you too enjoyed the fourth of July, because we had a cracker of a day in Rotterdam.

We turned out in our hundreds of thousands, just hoping to glimpse you for a second. I know you were probably looking out for me, but if you did spot me across a crowded street, forgive me if I didn’t return your cheery wave. It was bedlam out there.

There was plenty of pre-match entertainment to keep us amused. You probably never see that, because you’re always in the team bus doing stretching exercises, getting massages and avoiding questions from the media, but if you sneak out in disguise one morning and have a wander around, I think you’ll enjoy what’s going on.

The cavalcade of advertisers’ vehicles began at 10am. There were lots of enthusiastic young ladies throwing things into the crowd. I think they’ll be more tired and grumpy by the time they get to the Alps, and the free merchandise may have run out by then, but we enjoyed it today.

Anyone who works for a sponsor can get their fifteen seconds of fame.

I got a lovely headband from a hotel chain, and a packet of three squashed madeleine cakes from a baker called St Michel. Small but delicious! The lady next to me caught a big green rubber hand with the name of a bank on it. She loved it too, and waved it at every opportunity.

In the People’s Park by the harbourfront, I had the chance to buy an official Tour de France package of ten items – cap, t-shirt, playing cards…excellent value at 20 euros the lot. However, the Rotterdam council was handing out free tour caps, so instead I joined the Dutch cheapskates queuing up for them.

There was then a slight lull in proceedings for an hour and a half while we waited for the race proper to start. I strolled the streets of Rotterdam, and imagine my joy to discover a Walk of Fame near the Maritime Museum. Your handprint wasn’t there on the pavement yet, Lance, but your time will come, I’m sure. Some of my favourite celebrities were there already, including Johan Cruyff (a footballer), Shirley Bassey (a singer) and Tina Turner (another singer). And also this one who I’m sure needs no further explanation…

You can feel the magic, you can hear the music!

Then the helicopters appeared overhead and we knew it was time to start jostling for vantage points by the rails. I managed to get a spot on a bridge as you passed underneath.

Thanks to my correspondent Bram for identifying the riders. He has good eyes, a hi-res monitor and too much time on his hands!

Then I rushed across the road to see you pass again when the peloton looped back and reappeared.

The mayor of Rotterdam thought we were cheering for him. We do quite like him, actually, the first Dutch mayor of Moroccan ancestry.

The course was rather narrow, so I got up really close to the riders this time…

I think Number 150-something said, 'G'day' to me. Maybe it was 'Get outta the way.'

Five seconds later it was all over. Your spare bikes got a round of applause as they were driven past on the roof of a support vehicle, but the fire had gone out of the Rotterdammers’ bellies by then. Their tour was over. I walked sadly back to the station, to take the train back to Amsterdam, where a TV set was waiting.

Then a hoarding by the station caught my eye. It was a quote from you, Lance, and a very good one too. I’m taking it to heart, and I hope you do too. Cheers, Richard.

STOP PRESS: Alessandro Petacchi wins sprint finish in Brussels. No change in general classification – Cancellara in the yellow jersey, Armstrong still fourth. Cavendish is held up by a fall and can’t contest the sprint.

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