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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Wrenchin' in the USA: The Chris Davidson diary 2007

Chris joins us again in 2007 to report on life on the road turning the wrench for a variety of teams both in dirt and on the road. Formerly with Ford Cycling in 2006, Chris has also worked for such teams as T-Mobile, Equipe Nurnberger, Quark and Mercury in the past, as well as neutral support programs with Shimano, Pedros and Trek.

As 2007 holds some new challenges for Chris, some things will stay the same. One of those will be his informative diary contributions on Cyclingnews, where you'll often receive the inside scoop on all things tech and a look at life behind the wrench.

Mechanical madness

Tour de Georgia - Stage 4 - April 19: Chickamauga - Lookout Mountain (ITT), 30.4 km

David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir) awaits the start
Photo ©: Chris Davidson
(Click for larger image)

So yesterday I gave you a tour of the team car for the road stages, and skipped the report of the day's stage. As was widely reported elsewhere, the break went to almost 30 minutes and the bunch rolled in with the GC down to a handful of people.

We suffered a loss on the stage as one of our strongest rider, Ciaran Power, made the break and was looking to win the stage when he crashed on the final descent and injured himself. Immediately after the race he went to the hospital of a CT scan. Head injuries of this nature all always serious and Ciaran did not start the TT for us today as a precaution. Additionally, the 'Russian Concussion' Victor Rapinski has been having some knee troubles and did not make the time cut in today's TT.

The TT today featured some serious climbing on the extremely technical course. Most of our riders choose 11X25 cassettes and 54/55 X 42 chainrings on TT bikes with Campy Bora Ultra wheels.

Due to the length of the course [30km], and the rural nature of the course, we were not able follow each rider. We choose to follow Phil Zajicek and Ben Day with our two cars. I went to the start line and helped to run each of our riders through the bike inspection, and get up on the start ramp. After Day, our last rider, mounted the start ramp, I jumped in the car to follow. Ben rode a very precise TT, as he had pre-ridden the course in the week prior to the Tour de Georgia, and recorded a 10th place on the stage.

Tyler Hamilton (Tinkoff) warms up for the TT
Photo ©: Chris Davidson
(Click for larger image)

Ben caught four riders on the course and put in a really hard effort, despite not being 100 per-cent healthy. His performance today was really impressive: beyond his technical mastery of TT, the guy can really crank up the hurt factor and suffer. I could see this on the climbs when he was out of the saddle fighting the gear, then pushing the cadence back up as he would crest the ridge. His fight to always squeeze more speed out of his body and bike was evident in his legs and arms. The riders that finished in front of Ben on the daily results are all world beaters, making his 10th place even more impressive. The rest of our boys also showed some good form in the TT. With four guys in the top 35, it was a good team showing.

TT days are always extra work for the mechanics as it requires different bikes, more wheel work, specific warm-up equipment and extra attention to detail. While the actual time riding is less on a TT day [today's stage took less that one hour], the extra work for the mechanics may add two-three extra hours of work to that day. Post-race, we also have to wash bikes, and then switch to the road bikes for tomorrow's stage. One of my mechanic friends today said that if all bike races were TT's he would be working in baseball, rather than cycling. He is right.

I did not get many pics in today, as I was running around so much that it was hard to get my camera out. I did manage to snap a couple of pics of the most popular riders at the TT: David Millar and Tyler Hamilton. Enjoy.

Tomorrow is the queen stage of the Tour. Brasstown Bald is the make-or-break climb that defines this tour: it is too bad that so many riders are out of GC contention after Wednesday's stage. I will get the camera out more often tomorrow and try to get pics of the action and interesting happenings. The weather forecast is great for tomorrow's climb, so I will keep the car window rolled down during the climb. Give me a shout from your vantage point on the climb. I hope to hear from you.

Chris Davidson

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Chris Davidson