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S&M - The Stuart O'Grady & Matt White diary
During the Tour de France Cofidis team-mates Stuart O'Grady and Matt White will be taking turns to give us an inside look at the daily goings-on in the peloton and the team hotel. An Olympic gold medalist on the track, O'Grady is a rider to watch in the sprints and long breakaways, while White is an experienced grand tour rider who has been kept out of the Tour de France by a run of lousy luck that's finally ended this year.
O'Grady has had a rollercoaster ride at the last few Tours, wearing the yellow jersey in 2001 and green in 2002, but never quite managing to hang on to green all the way to Paris. In the last couple of years he's shifted his emphasis away from sprint speed and remodelled himself as a Classics and long breakaway expert.
White is finally riding the Tour after breaking his collarbone just before the start of last year's Tour. In 2001 he was expected to ride the Tour but did not make his US Postal's final selection and in 1999 his Vini Caldirola team had its Tour invitation withdrawn when Sergei Gontchar failed a haematocrit test at the Tour of Switzerland. After that, he's due some good luck in 2005!
July 11, 2005: Rest day at last
By Matt White
I can't get over that ride of Mickael Rasmussen yesterday; it was sensational. He is unreal and one of the best natural climbers in the world.
It's a well earned rest today and I've just been for a couple of hours with Stuey. We did about 80k on the flat. We headed out the national route but it was dead straight and doing our head in so we turned off into a village, found a coffee shop then rode back on the quiet roads. Stu was trying out his new bike and I was testing out the new cleats. The first rest day is the time to do all the little things like cleats to check everything.
My insomnia hasn't changed. I slept on my own last night but as soon as the sun was up my eyelids were open. So I did a bit of texting and then went down to breakfast. People probably don't realize just how much is involved each day outside the racing. There is very little let up. It's a bit of a circus and we are flat out from dawn to dusk.
It is great to be able to just take the pressure off and not have to be anywhere at a certain time. Some of the guys hardly turn the pedals on the rest day but not many. I have to do at least two hours. I find the body gets in to a rhythm and if I don't go out I feel so bad it's incredible.
I'm looking forward to catching up with mum. She is having her first trip outside Australia and she has no idea what she is in for. She hadn't even seen it on TV until I rode this year. She is so nervous she was packed three weeks ago. She has motion sickness tablets and even had shots, so I don't know where she thinks she is going. But it will be good to catch up with her.
Tomorrow's stage to Courchevel will be ripper and I think there will be fireworks and we will get a fair idea of just who will win the 2005 Tour de France.
July 10, 2005: Can't complain
By Stuart O'Grady
Here I am, it's 10.00 pm I am about to re-board the plane to fly to Grenoble. I say re-board because we have all been on and off-loaded because of some technical problem. Hopefully I will hit the sack by midnight.
I shouldn't complain too much because I had a good day. I climbed well enough to only lose 40 seconds at the top of the final climb. And then the team rode well to support me and get me to the front of the main peloton, and I won the sprint.
All on a day that I expected to finish back in the gruppetto. I guess there's still some life in the old legs yet.
Jens was good today. You only have to give him a sniff and he'll get you in a head lock and wrestle you to the ground. But how good was Rasmussen? Away for much of the day, he didn't look like getting caught. Not bad when the full Discovery squad are on the front chasing flat out and they hardly made a dent in his lead.
It has just been an unbelievable Tour so far. It has been the fastest I have seen and the crowds the biggest. Sure the winds have been favourable, but the pressure has been on right from the start of every stage. Whitey has been going really well and the other guys are really starting to put in.
It has been really fast in these hilly stages and they are just crashing out of the blocks, you don't get a chance to warm up. The tempo is just so high. A lot of guys are struggling. I think the race up to Courchevel will be crucial. A lot struggle to get inside the time limit. I know that everyone will enjoy the day off.
2005 entries - the Tour de France
Previous Cyclingnews interviews with Stuart O'Grady & Matt White