By Tyler Hamilton, U.S. Postal Rider
Well this is the first rest day I can remember in a long time where we actually got to rest. Our team has been at the same hotel for the past two nights and the start is right down town from us tomorrow. Believe me when I say a few nights stay in one spot is a rarity at the Tour. I practically feel like I live here in Pau.
We went for a training ride at about 10:30 this morning to preview a bit of tomorrow’s course. The profile is pretty grim. Don’t believe people when they say the hardest stages are behind us — because the next two days are going to be tough. There are no mountain top finishes but the profiles are unrelenting. Rolling and then rolling some more. With no breaks in between. We set out for a two-hour ride but somehow wound up diverted and spent almost three hours out on our bikes. Needless to say, I was looking forward to an afternoon nap. With over 200 kilometers in each of the next two stages we’re going to be put to the test. And I need all the rest I can get.
The region we’ll be passing through is called the Massif Central. A couple years back, one of my teammates renamed the area Massive $^$#!@# during a pass through here. Now you know how grueling the terrain is. I really don’t think there is one solitary flat section. The stage profile looks like back-to-back hump-back camels.
My parents and my wife departed from the Tour today. They all had hoarse voices and looked a little haggard from driving over 1,800 kilometers through the Pyrenees. But the weather was good while they were along with us and Lance assumed the lead in the race — so naturally, they feel like they were part of the good luck streak while being here. And they’re now even taking credit for curing the mishaps with my derailleur. I guess it’s a good thing they showed up.
On kind of a random note — if you think being at the Tour de France is an incredible opportunity — consider this. While my family was on the final climb Sunday they found themselves positioned in no-man’s land. Meaning, they had no idea what was going on in the race since they weren’t at the top of the climb where the television and radio broadcasts keep everyone posted. So to stay informed, they were calling home to Massachusetts on their cell phones to find out what was going on and who won. So those of you who think you are missing out on the action back at home — rest assured. You’re one step ahead of the fans on the roadside.
Thanks for reading.