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92nd Tour de France - July 2-24, 2005
July 8, 2005
Tour de France insights: On the road in France, Tim Maloney encounters Pascal's ride and Freddie's brew
Lino au volant: The best seat in the house
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Chambord
For many years when we've wanted to find out what was really going on during any given stage at the Tour de France, Cyclingnews has gone straight to Pascal Lino, who drives car #4 of Deputy Competition director Laurent Bezault.
Lino works for the Tour De France three months per year at all of its races and the rest of the time, he is the importer for Everlast Watches in France.
As for le velo, Lino told Cyclingnews, "I ride about 2000km per year. I only go out when I can wear shorts and a jersey".
Lino's main sport these days in windsurfing in the bay near his hometown of Vannes in Brittany.
Voiture Quatre is the red car that goes 'avant' with the break and always stays on the front of the race.
Lino, a former maillot jaune at le Tour himself (11 days in yellow in 1992) is an excellent judge of the race you don't see on your TV.
"We run the traffic at the front of the race, so the racers have enough space to race, and when the break goes and the race is reconfigured, we go with them and stay behind until (Tour Race director) Christian Prudhomme comes up. Then we go back in front. We've got a good place! Not bad; we can see everything."
We asked Lino about the TTT flip-flop when Zabriskie crashed and Armstrong one again took over the maillot jaune and Lino smiled and replied, "Lance is once again really strong and had a lot of luck. Luck certainly was a factor; Discovery rode a super TTT, but I think that without the crash of the maillot jaune, they would have been beaten.
"But Lance is not only strong, he's lucky, so it will be hard for the others to beat him."
We then asked Lino if Armstrong can keep the MJ until Paris. He shrugged and said, "I don't know. I don't know if he wants it for now. To predict the tactics with Armstrong is always hard, because he a really good poker player. So we don't know. He's certainly go something up his sleeve but I think he could keep the jersey until Paris if he wants to."
Inside the red car (left): Lino allowed Cyclingnews to get an exclusive look inside Laurent Bezault's Voiture Quatre and see the control panel that Bezault uses to stay in touch with the Tour's other Voitures Direction. The Tour has several dedicated radio channels of its own, plus the race officials' channels that Bezault monitors, as well as a pop-up LCD TV.
Fast Freddy sprints and brews at Le Tour
Let's have a coffee and then we'll sprint
By Tim Maloney, European Editor In Montargis
Davitamon-Lotto's Fast Freddy Rodriguez lived up to his name Wednesday in Montargis, as he provided the perfect leadout for stage winner Robbie McEwen (see report).
Rodriguez was pleased with the way things went after the frustrations of previous stages when Robbie came up short.
"Yeah, it went perfectly. Me and Leon Van Bon positioned Robbie perfectly and he showed he is the fastest finisher in the race. And he isn't done yet!"
Besides the excitement of the moment, Fred was probably pumped by his almost famous Fast Freddy Blend coffee, albeit in gel form.
"We have put together this special sample of Fast Freddy Blend coffee gel," he said. Rodriguez said the makers live close by to his home in Emeryville and they made up the 'shots' for testing at the Tour De France.
"All the guys on the team love it and guys from other teams are even coming up to me in the peloton for it. They are just like a shot of espresso!"
Before heading off to do battle, Freddy sent a shout out to his wife Annie back home in Emeryville, who's expecting the couple's first child next month.