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By Christian Vande Velde, CSC professional cycling team
The week before the Tour de France is finally here. The second half of the season has already begun. The Giro d’Italia is long over, along with the Dauphiné and Tour du Suisse. Before you know it, we will be at Lombardi racing the last race of the calendar.
I raced – well okay, I participated – in the Dauphiné after the Giro. I stopped with one day to go and even that was a few days too late. I have been at home ever since.
It’s a weird feeling being home after more-or-less racing non-stop for five weeks. You find yourself ridiculously restless and then absolutely knackered all at the same time. So you really get nothing accomplished. I am now out of my funk and have regained the necessary motivation to continue the year.
It’s kinda funny changing your lifestyle back-and-forth like that. A guy gets used to throwing his towels on the floor, walking down to every meal already prepared, someone doing laundry and, of course, having a bike always clean and looking new, no matter what happened the day before.
I’d be lying if I didn’t take these things for granted at times, but it is nice to come back home and take care of yourself… well, maybe apart from the towel thing.
So it’s the last week of June and all of the guys going to the Tour have packed up and kissed their families goodbye for the month. At this point, there isn’t a bit of training that would be useful anymore, other than looking at the TTT course and training with the team. And so for them this the longest week of their lives, waiting for the Tour to begin.
I’ve done it before. You sit in a hotel room in the best shape of your life or close to it and try not to think too much about the race (which is impossible) or eat like a pig (almost impossible). Since eating is the only thing that you really look forward to all day, it’s easy to eat and eat more since your metabolism is so high and you’re bored stiff. You leave lunch asking what time dinner is. It’s kind of like an old couple on vacation, planning all of their days around meals.
Anyway, this time of the year is fun to watch because, for cyclists, it’s almost like a new year has just started. What you have done in the spring – even at the Giro – doesn’t really mean anything now. You’ll see people who couldn’t even finish a race in the spring now dropping the same guy who won that very race. At this point, it really doesn’t matter what what happened in the Dauphiné or in Switzerland. The Tour is just a different animal. If you bet on Mayo last year after he killed everyone in the Dauphiné, you would’ve lost some serious dough. Where has Mayo been this year? Nowhere. But maybe we’ll see him ride better a better Tour than he did last year. Who knows? That is why the Tour is so great.
Me? I’ll be at home this July. I’m disappointed, but I still can’t wait to watch it. It’s big drama every day. House moms have “Days of Our Lives,” and – domestic God that I’ll be for July – I have the Tour.
So you take the good with the bad, right? I’m bummed that I won’t be racing in the biggest event of the year, but I sure won’t miss sitting in the hotel this week. I also get to enjoy staying home, doing those mundane tasks that make a guy feel like a nine-to-fiver.
So have fun watching the Tour. If you want to find me, I’ll be out back cutting the grass and cleaning the pool.