Sunday, July 14: St. Martin-de-Landelles – Plouay
By Tyler Hamilton, CSC-Tiscali cycling team
We spent our longest day in the saddle to date today. Stage 8 proved to be a little less dramatic than Stage 7, thankfully.
The amount of crashing and full on craziness yesterday was enough to frazzle the strongest of nerves. Everyone always says — stay up front and out of trouble. But yesterday, the trouble was up at the front. Both crashes occurring in the final ten kilometers were in large part, a domino effect from the front of the peloton, which just goes to show you that anything can happen in bike racing. Just when you think you are doing the right thing – you could wind up in a terribly wrong situation. It’s crazy.
This being the Tour de France, there are plenty of French cycling fans on hand. I think they are about the most passionate fans on the planet. The amount of signs you see along the road side for French riders and teams is amazing. But sometimes these folks can take things a little too far.
For instance, yesterday, when my teammate Laurent Jalabert went down inside 10K to go, he broke his bike and took a bike change from Michael Sandstod. While actively making the transfer to Michael’s bike, Laurent left his broken bike on the road. He knew the team car would eventually approach and pick it up. But before it arrived, a crazed fan jumped out of the crowd and grabbed Laurent’s bike and started running. I guess getting your hands on a French star’s bike is the equivalent of hitting pay dirt, because this guy took off like a shot.
Luckily, our team mechanic arrived just in time to see this guy making his get away and took off after him. He was ultimately able to retrieve Laurent’s bike. But not until battling the Jalabert fan in a nasty game of tug-of-war. In six Tours, this is one of the craziest stories I have ever heard.
I don’t know if the frame thief was back on the prowl again today or if another culprit is to blame, but my laundry was stolen this morning. How, you ask? Each night we turn in a laundry bag to the team’s soigneurs to be taken out to the truck for washing. Each bag usually consists of one team kit; shorts, a jersey, an undershirt, gloves and socks. The laundry bags are usually returned to us at breakfast each morning.
This morning however, the basket full of laundry bags was left out in the hallway near our hotel rooms. With all the coming and going from team personnel, it was pretty safe to assume the clothing would be left alone.
As each rider returned from breakfast he grabbed his laundry bag and went on his way. Mine however, turned up missing. Which means somebody out there is walking around with my used chamois. Kind of gross if you ask me.
The real bummer is that my favorite undershirt, which looks more like a rag than a piece of clothing, was in that bag. And now it’s gone. It sounds crazy to be upset about a t-shirt. But when you are on the road for three weeks at a clip the little things make a difference. And our suitcases aren’t huge, so you can’t always pack extras of everything. That undershirt was part of my daily kit. Now I’m without it – and guess what? I’m kind of mad.
Aside from losing my clothes, my cell phone also went on the fritz today. I have been having trouble with it lately, and now it won’t charge. And I’m totally out of battery power. When you are on the road as much as a guy like me, you kind of become codependent on your phone. So it’s kind of a strange thing to be without it at the moment.
Consumer electronics are the bane of the American traveler’s existence over here in Europe. It seems like at least one of my high tech accouterments is on the brink at all times.
Recently, my wife’s laptop lost is “operating system” and our digital camera’s LCD screen cracked. It’s safe to say that none of these gadgets, specifically built for travel, travel very well. And getting something fixed back in the U.S. while you are living in Europe is just about impossible. The thought of shipping delays and customs inquiries are usually enough to make you just go out and buy a new whatever you need. As of tonight, I have quite a shopping list.
Thanks for reading.
Tyler Hamilton and Jonathan Vaughters are sending in regular updatesfrom peloton throughout this year’s Tour de France.To read other diary entries go to the “Riders’Diaries” section and follow the appropriate links.