2001 Tour de France rider journals

Pre-Tour & prologue to stage 7
Stages 8 -15
Stage 16 - July 16-17: Close...

Bradley McGee - part 3: Final stretch

Nationality: Australian
Team: La Francaise des Jeux

This year the Australian rider Bradley McGee has shown that his progression from track star to leading road rider has come along well, with strong rides in the Midi Libre and a second place in the prologue of the Criterium du Dauphine Libere. McGee already has a swag of medals from his days on the track, but is still only 25. He has had a great first Tour de France - with a third and second placing in two stages, as well as simply surviving. He's on the home stretch now, and still motoring...

Stages 16-17 - July 25-26: Castelsarrasin - Montluçon


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After stage 16
Photo: © AFP

People have been fantastic, even though I didn't win yesterday. Sure it was great ride and everything, but you've still got to be a bit disappointed for second and not first. On the other hand, let's face facts, I don't think I had anything to play with it all.

I've known Jens for a long time, I know his style and I love his style. I knew he was going to go and I was ready to go. The beauty of Jens is once he attacks, he just does not look around. He doesn't care if someone's on his wheel, or at five seconds or at half an hour. He just keeps going and I've tried to follow that lead in the past.

All the way up to 10 km to go I thought I still had a shot - we'd actually decided to do an even sprint. We know each other, we're mates, we knew we'd have to work well together to stay away. We didn't want to play any tricks so we were going to do a side-by-side sprint to the line. But from 10 km to go until the finish, every kilometre I was going down by 20 percent and by the end I just had nothing.

I had a look at the finish on TV and I was thinking "Bloody hell Brad, what are you doing?" I was all over the place. But what also struck me was how fast we were still going at the end, even though to me if felt like we'd stopped.
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Almost there...
Photo: © Sirotti

There was a bit of trouble with my vision at the end, which was obviously concerning! But looking back, it was a great day. I was glad to be there because the break had already gone. I jumped across really well on that long climb, thanks to my boss Marc Madiot in the earpiece, screaming at us. He also let me know there was that hill coming up, it was a good move.

After the finish, I sculled a can of Coke in about half a second, then a can of Sprite. The oxygen was good - within five minutes, I was like "whoa!, That's alright". It was amazing how quickly it turned around after the finish.

I drank and ate to the limit - you can't put anymore in, otherwise you just explode, your stomach can't put enough away. It was just like that.

It wasn't a good stage health-wise for my hotel room, because my room-mate is Sven Montgomery. He's fractured his face in several places, suffered a broken collarbone and they might have to operate on his sinuses when he came down in the big crash during stage 16. But he never lost consciousness and he recognises people, he's also talking - so he hasn't hit his head too badly. Still, it's pretty nasty, he lost a lot of blood.

Another thing about yesterday was the intensity of the attacking - everyone wanted to get away. For 60-70km everyone was attacking, attacking, attacking and I was thinking do I really want to be up there, can I handle that? If I do go up the road, am I going to blow? - all these questions. Sure enough I blew, but it was only with a couple of k to go and you find new limits.

I had my parents ring me this morning just to check up on how I was, but I reassured them it was just a question of being empty. There was no fuel left in the tank.

I had a good sleep last night and today was as good as I could expect to go. There was no way I was going to be involved in any racing. I paced myself as well as you can when you're moving at about 47 km/h for 190-plus kilometres! I'd be lying if I said I felt good, but then you have a look around the peloton and you realise you're still going better than a number of others. I ate and drank heaps again today, it was very hot.

Looking at the set-up for tomorrow's time trial, I will know straight away if the legs have anything in them. But it's interesting with the times of the starts. I'm off at 1 pm and they're saying by mid-afternoon there could be storms coming through. You have to take advantage of something like in a time trial if you can, the weather is a big thing. I will decide if I really try to put the hammer down.

Criterium du Dauphine Libere diary
Tour de France Prologue to stage 7 diary
Tour de France Stages 8 -15 Diary