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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.
Life on the road
Stage 7 - April 22: Atlanta circuit race, 107km
This will be the final report from the Tour de Georgia for me this year. I know that it is a little off the back, but the events of Sunday quickly rolled into Monday and by time I got back home on Monday night, it involved 900-plus miles of driving and 2000-plus miles of flying.
Sunday morning saw me get a little extra sleep, as the start for the last stage was 1:00 pm. We filed out of the hotel and I knew that would be the last time I would get into my bag for a while. Sunday's stage was an urban circuit in downtown Atlanta, a good way to show off the race to a large crowd. The circuit consisted of some rolling hills and a total of nine laps. For this race we had a number of VIPs in town from Navigators Insurance, as did a number of other race team sponsors. To accommodate them, we would stop near the start/finish line each lap and pick up some VIPs for a ride in the car for a lap. This lets these essential people have an inside view of the race. Where usually it is just the director and me in the car during the stages, here we sometimes had 2 extra people in the car for a lap. It kinda changes the layout of spares, tools, etc. that I depicted in an earlier report.
Unlike the previous six stages where Navigators had experienced zero flat tires in the race, this urban circuit had its fair share of potholes, manhole covers and general dirt and debris. Three flat tires for the day put me to work getting outside the car repeatedly. Earlier in stage six, Ben Day got a stick wedged in his rear cassette that required me to fish it out on the fly (pictured left), but this is the only service work I did from the car during the Tour. Good equipment, properly maintained, and a little luck managed to keep my stress down for the week. Other teams were not so lucky, as I saw some teams that had double digit flats on some stages. It really scares a mechanic when you deplete all the spares that you have in the car before the end of a stage.
One day in the Tour [on stage to Rome] we depleted all the bottles in the number one car and had to call up the number two car to get some more, but other than that, the Tour went well for us as far as having the riders covered.
Back to the Sunday stage. An early break gets away, sprinters team chase, field sprint, JJ wins. Pretty typically for a circuit race to finish a stage race. No changes in the general classification or any of the jerseys. One of our riders was celebrated in the final communiqué; Glen Chadwick was recognized as being the most aggressive rider for the entire Tour. Glen was in the two longest breaks of the Tour, always willing to give it some stick. Karl Menzies joked to Chady when it was over that if he took some rest this week then he would probably be flying soon, as he really busted his butt in this Tour being in those long breaks.
Post race we had another hotel transfer, to a hotel near the airport in Atlanta. We had to wash some bikes, pack some bikes for the trip to Europe, and load up some vehicles. For the trip down to Georgia from New Jersey I was driving the Navigators motorhome, towing one of the caravan cars on a trailer. For the trip home I got to drive one of the Audis back, a nice bonus. After the clean and pack up, I had enough time to grab some food, say bye to the riders and staff, and get in the car and head north.
While most riders and staff looked forward to a little partying and relaxing Sunday night, I had over 900 miles to cover before 5:00pm Monday when I was due to fly out of New Jersey, so I had to get going. I drove until 2:00am, grabbed four hours sleep and started driving again. Oh, the glamorous side to a staff member's job. I made it to New Jersey with enough time to grab a shower at the team's apartment before heading to the airport and boarding my flight home.
TdG was a great race this year, great weather on every stage, great courses and roads, pretty cool accommodations along the way. The Navs really brought the race to the TdG, we made the break everyday and fought for the sprints and stages along the way. The boys rode awesome all week, and served notice to the ProTour teams with their competitiveness. Next up for most of the riders is a five day stage race in Germany, but for me it is time to head home. I look forward to getting back on the road with these guys.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Glenn Kalnins