TDF Alps: Dunc & Peron Whisper!
Andrea Peron whispers, Dunc talks, Tyler gives us a nod and a wink and Riis just smiles. This was my evening I spent with Andrea Peron and his team CSC after the finish in Morzine and the night before the great Alp d’Huez stage.
After the finish in Morzine, I drove to CSC’s hotel on Lake Montriond and the first person I bump in to is Bjarne Riis. I set a time to meet up with Andrea and the team after all their massages and head to the bar for a beer…ok…3 beers!!
When we finally meet up, Andrea Peron is his usual nice self and we start chatting, not about cycling but everything else. I get introduced to the Team as “Duncan, the man that swam the English Channel”, which caused a few jokes and a lot of questions.
Finally I get to talk to Andrea about the last days.
PEZ: How are you going?
AP: I’ve had a rough couple of days, but it’s just one of those things that happens to everybody. Now I feel good….today I was with Tyler until the last attacks, as we had to keep the attacks within a certain range then Tyler and Sastre kept with the chasing group and I, after my work was done, dropped off and went up easily.
PEZ: Hamilton is doing something special isn’t he?
AP: Hamilton is in GREAT shape, the accident and the broken shoulder was a blow for him and the team, but he has a personality that is second to none Dunc, He is still going day by day, nobody knows, except him what pain he is going through.
At this time Riis comes to join us and demonstrates that he is a real gentleman. He was relaxed and constantly smiling….was he surprised with Hamilton as well ?? I threw the question on the table and Andrea and Riis laugh.
PEZ: Has Hamilton surprised you in these days?
AP& Riis laughing: When Tyler wakes up in the morning he is like a plastic soldier, you know the little ones you played with when we were kids, He’s all stiff and has problems to move, they feed him…..strap him up and as a block, place him on his bike, the strapping is re-inforced and he is sent on his way!! It’s quite funny if you look at him in the morning but when he gets stuck in and attacks
(your saw him today on Alp D’Huez) we all just admire him.
Riis: Do you know Duncan, your friend here Andrea is the Tops, he is great for us…bravo bravo! (I see a pay rise for Andrea in these words! Dunc)
I order another Beer and Tyler is off to bed…..I quickly tell that Pez is routing for him and ask about his general state of mind and body… he smiles nods and shakes everybody’s hand …..as if all is perfect!
I chat with Andrea about how in the last 10 years the public has changed (I followed the last 2 weeks of the TDF in 1993, by bike. Dunc) The Public were 99%French. I couldn’t believe on these days in the Alps, how many Americans, Brits and Australians were on the course, Italians were obviously in their numbers, Swiss came and visited… Germans, thanks to Ullrich and a growing band of talented youngsters, were there as usual but SO SO SO MANY ENGLISH SPEAKERS. Andrea has noticed the same thing, he did point out to me that France is going through a rough time in Cycling (one of the reasons why Jean Delatour was included, instead of Cipo’s Domina Vacanze, else Jean Delatour would have had to close up shop) no great champions anymore, Jalabert has retired…Virenque still puts fire and passion into a win but after these two…the French are short in the group for talent. A lot of the Stars and Stripes Flags are put up by the French!!! No anti American’s on the TDF as has been reported in the years and the Jersey most worn by Amatuer Cyclist, from all nationalities, riding the course or trying the final climbs is ….surprise surprise US POSTAL!!
A few things that I did notice that raised my eye-brows was that not all the Pro’s ( and amateurs!!) have their helmets fastened!! Now what is the point of obliging the use of Helmets without obliging fastening them…a helmet is no good if it falls off your head before you hit the ground is it!!? Notice Virenque fastening his Helmet 400meters from the finish in yesterdays great stage win? Just another thing about Virenque that made me chuckle a bit, was that as he was hammering up the climb 10km from the end of the stage in Les Gets I tried to get a photo of him…now…the roads were wide and the crowds were going wild but I couldn’t get a photo as Virenque was being escorted up the climb by a car in front, 2 motorbikes left and right ……closed in totally………..mmmmmmmmmmm isn’t this favourable drafting!!??
PEZ: Andrea, do you see any of the Publicity Carovans before the race?
AP: Yes, but never really take any notice, these Girls drive the publicity cars all day and party all night…they just don’t sleep. I’ll tell you a story. In 1993 my first TDF, I was doing a TT and was one of the first to go. In those days a publicity car or van followed every rider in the TT, I was going ok with my DS of the team giving some advice when behind me there was a incredible noise, as I turn the corner, I look behind me and see that the publicity van had gone straight on and gone off the road… the driver had fallen asleep!!! For them it just one big party for 3weeks!!!
We leave CSC’s hotel and head to Alp D’Huez to be ready for the next days stage, I say goodbye to Riis (still smiling!!) and arrange to speak with Andrea after Alp D’Huez.
AP: Dunc, what a day!
PEZ; Ok are you?
AP: Alp D’huez is one of the hardest climbs on the tour but with the crowds I didn’t even notice the difficulty of the climb…it is always incredible….my ears whistle from the crowds noise and cheering, like after being to a rock concert! We are tired and happy…Tyler Tyler just doesn’t show his dis-comfort for his shoulder, but remember still now he is taking day by day, his shoulder needs rest and just isn’t getting any.
PEZ: Thanks Andrea and hear from you on the rest day.
AP: Thanks for the visit Dunc.
So, Virenque keeps his French public happy with a win and the Yellow Jersey, Armstrong takes the Yellow Jersey from Virenque the day after and the French are still happy, Pettachi abandons while wearing the Green Jersey and the French aren’t happy, no respect, but we are all happy because it’s going to be a great race!
FASTEN YOUR HELMETS