7.TwentyFour.20Ten

The Regent Grand - Bordeaux

The Regent Grand - Bordeaux

3 am?!  What?  How in the world did we stay up until 3am?  Our original plan (made pre-night out) was to awaken early and run and explore Bordeaux by foot.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  We slept in and barely made it to breakfast the next “morning” before heading out to watch the individual time trial race.

Not only was our hotel nice, but it was strategically positioned close to the start of the TdF TT stage.  We walked around the secured team bus area (more on this later) and down near the starting gate.  Riders were sent off every two (2) to three (3) minutes.  Being triathletes, we really like the TT (or “race of truth”) so it was super-cool to see the world’s greatest cyclists decked out in all of their aero gear zooming by.  We watched a few riders, grabbed some cheese wraps and smoothies from France’s version of Jamba Juice (and were shown a YouTube video of the ‘Smoothie Master’ by the shop’s owner on his laptop.  He was an award winner for smoothie innovation…can YOU say that?).  After lunch, we watched some more riders start the TT and found a neat little spot where the riders were riding around for their final warm-up.  From this locale we had close encounters with some Garmin, RadioShack riders (including LA), KOM Anthony Charteau, Ivan Basso and Bradley Wiggins.  After Lance started his TT, we walked back to the “secured” team bus area and found it to be not as secured post-Lance’s departure so we pseudo-hopped a fence and found ourselves inside with the team buses and the leaders of the TdF (for the TT, the top riders start last).  We walked right up to the Rabobank team bus and found Denis Menchov (3rd) and Robert Gesink (6th).  We then walked over to RadioShack and saw Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner (10th).  Then we went to the Saxo Bank bus and waited a few minutes for Max’s main man Andy Schleck to come out (to a rock star ovation) and start his warm-up.  Last to exit his bus was TdF leader (and eventual champion) Alberto Contador of Team Astana.  Standing this close to the riders and watching them prepare for one of the most important races of their career was AWESOME!!  After the leaders completed their warm-up, we watched them exit the “secured” area and head to the start ramp.  We watched them take off and then headed back to our hotel to watch the race finish on the tele.  Andy Schleck rode admirably, but could not overtake Contador.  Menchov was able to jump from 4th to 3rd place overall.  So the podium was set for Sunday’s celebratory ride/parade into Paris and the final sprint on the Champs Elysees.

After the stage finished, our group walked to the gare (train station) and boarded the TGV (high-speed train) to Paris.  We got to another very (very) nice hotel in Paris (Westin – Paris) late on Saturday evening.  We only had time to get some pizza and check out the view from our room of the Eiffel Tower before crashing to bed.

Team Milram warming up for TT

Team Milram warming up for TT

Stage 19 Start House - Allez!

Stage 19 Start House - Allez!

KOM prepping with his teammate for the TT

KOM prepping with his teammate for the TT

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong

Rabobank's Robert Gesink and Denis Menchov

Rabobank's Robert Gesink (l) and Denis Menchov (r - 3rd place)

Andy Schleck (2nd Place) warming up for TT

Andy Schleck (2nd Place) warming up for TT

Alberto Contador (1st Place) warming up for TT

Alberto Contador (1st Place) warming up for TT

Andy Schleck heading to the start ramp

Andy Schleck heading to the start ramp

M+M+Polka Dotted Jersey cow in Bordeaux

M+M+Polka Dotted Jersey cow in Bordeaux

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