July 24/04 3:03 am - Redden Report from stage 19 TDF
Posted by Editoress on 07/24/04
Photographer Chris Redden is back at the Tour again this year, and has decided to try his hand at writing as well as photos. Here are his impressions from his 8th day at the Tour.
July 24, Stage 19
With the ITT now behind us, there is only one stage that stands in Lance's way of a recording-breaking 6 Tour victories. For the most part, this stage is just ceremonial for GC, but the sprinters always have a hay day and try for the win.
The time trial today provided for an opportunity for companies to showcase some great aero products. The Phonak Team bikes were the coolest looking. They are all carbon and the head tube comes up to the handle bars. You gotta check out the photo to appreciate the weirdness that is going on. These bikes are also sporting new Easton Aero bars. They look like a nice setup and, yes, they all held together today. (The Phonak Team was having some handlebar difficulties earlier on in the Tour).
The new Aero helmets were the big news today. Bell and Giro have done the best work to make a great looking helmet that complies with the new UCI regulations for crash resistance. (for those of you who do not know, the UCI came up with a new regulation that helmets for Time Trials have to comply the same crash ratings as regular helmets. This meant that the helmets that most riders were using were not allowed anymore, since they were little more than a fairing). Most of the rest of the companies have come up with a helmet that looks like a mushroom or no Aero helmet at all. Look at the pics for a few examples or the bad helmets that these guys had to wear.
For those of you looking for a little inside info, Lance will ride a newly done up bike for the final stage. It will feature the 'Livestrong' theme and have yellow and gold leaf on it. Should be pretty cool. Livestrong is his charity to raise money for cancer research and other good things.
There were a few more security concerns today and a member of the public was pulled to the ground by police as Lance was starting his Time Trial today. I wasn't going to stick around, as the police were all over this guy. Lance travels with 2 full time security guards during the Tour. He has one full time guy all year round (The guy with a shaved head, if you have seen him on TV) and then a Tour-only guy who is a senior member of the Austin police force the rest of the year. Then there is also the staff who looks out for him as well. It is funny how Robin Williams can walk around pretty much unescorted and Lance needs so much security. Actually, the security guys usually end up just making a way for Lance through the crowd or through the media throng that usually envelops him. You get to feel like a paparazzi following Lance around. Tomorrow will be the worst day for me as the media group will be the biggest and so will the dignitary group. I hear Will Smith will be there, since he is in town promoting his movie, I Robot.
On a different topic, I just wanted to give you some insight on some of the people at the Tour. Those of you familiar with the podium girls may think that it is really a glamorous gig. Actually, these girls work in the Village in the morning, serving coffee and giving out papers, etc to VIPs. They then drive in the caravan in a promotional vehicle to the finish were they glamorize themselves so they look great on the podium. Then they have to get up on the podium, present the trophy and jersey and then finally head to the hotel that can be hours away. The next day they get up and do it all again.
This is kind of the same thing for the press. We get up early and drive from the hotel to the start. This can be a couple of hours. At the start you look for interesting things with the Teams and riders and which celebrities are going to show up that day. After the race starts, you take an alternate route to the race route and race the riders to the finish. If you are lucky enough to beat the riders to the finish, you then jostle with the other photographers for a good view of the finish. After the finish, you try and get a few more pics of the yellow jersey wearer, and then off to the press room to go through pictures, write a story, not eat dinner and head to the hotel that may be a couple of hours away. The next day you get up and do it again. Not too glamorous sounding, is it? You do get to see parts of the race though, which is pretty cool. This is defiantly the biggest and most exciting cycling race that I have ever been to, and I have seen a few races.
A couple of random notes:
I saw George Hincapie's girlfriend today and it looks like George is going to be a Dad in a few months. Either that, or she swallowed a beachball.
Lance sounds like he is going to have a bit of a party tonight in a French chateau with the Team and a few VIPs. He even said he is going to have a glass of wine as well.
The usual VIPs were with Lance today. The big surprise for me is how well Robin Williams speaks French. The guy sounds pretty fluent when he is talking to the press. And yes, he is funny in person. It must be hard to be funny all of the time.
That's all for today. Tomorrow I will be in Paris. I think we are going to drive in the Caravan tomorrow so we can try and see how it feels for the riders to arrive in Paris. Should be exciting.