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Livingston’s Diary: After Ax les Thermes

It was windy today (Friday, July 20). At the start (in Perpignon, on the southeastern coast), it was a head-crosswind. The attacks started before first climb. U.S. Postal and even some Bonjour riders took control of the race a bit. With the wind, groups went away, but kept coming back. On first descent, we caught that first group with Vinokourov in it. Despite the course profile, it was pretty uneventful today. We rode this stage once during training. I knew the first climb wasn’t very steep, and I could kind of picture happening what did. The climbs were short and weren’t steep enough to

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By Kevin Livingston, Team Telekom rider

It was windy today (Friday, July 20). At the start (in Perpignon, on the southeastern coast), it was a head-crosswind. The attacks started before first climb. U.S. Postal and even some Bonjour riders took control of the race a bit. With the wind, groups went away, but kept coming back. On first descent, we caught that first group with Vinokourov in it.

Despite the course profile, it was pretty uneventful today. We rode this stage once during training. I knew the first climb wasn’t very steep, and I could kind of picture happening what did. The climbs were short and weren’t steep enough to break the group up. With the wind and the style of the climbs, it just kind of came down to the final 8km, and I just had no chance there once the attack went.

On the (prior) rest day, we lost the first half of the day. We couldn’t just sleep in until 10 or anything. We had to get up at 8, take the bus with all of the riders, get on the plane in Perpignon — just another day with the same people. We got to our hotel, took a little ride, then did massage, then dinner, then back to bed. Pretty uneventful. Usually, when we are not racing, that’s about all I do — just eat, get massage and sleep. That’s pretty much it. But, I guess you have to be focused on what you’re here to do.

It is funny sometimes how you’re just moving around with no idea of where you are. I was thinking about that tonight after the race. We came by helicopter from the finish (at the ski area of Ax les Thermes), then we drove about 8km to the hotel. We just drive through towns and arrive at a hotel somewhere. I couldn’t even tell you if there’s a supermarket next to the hotel or what. It’s very strange.

Then the team personnel stays out cleaning our bikes and clothes. We always have new clothes for a big race like the Giro or the Tour. At the beginning of the year, we all got a net laundry bag with a number on it. You just put everything in there, and they just take care of it. The truck has a washer and dryer in it. Most every team is the same.

The morale on the team is good. At the dinner table and all, everybody is cheerful.I’m happy with how I am riding. I hope tomorrow (to St. Lary Soulan over five passes) that I can do again how I did on L’Alpe d’Huez. Going into Alpe d’Huez, I didn’t know what to expect. All of us had gotten so beaten up in those winds and everything the first week. I had felt so bad on this little climb into Aix les Bains the day before, so I was worried. I was motivated, but worried. There’s not much you can do when your form isn’t there. But I just pushed it and did my job for the team on the climbs, and I’m happy with how I rode. Now I hope I can do it again.