Monday, 29th June, 2009

L2P, team sky and me...

My voice is croaky. It’s not because I have a cold, nor is it due to excessive intake of alcohol or the patronizing of smoky pubs over the last few days. No, my voice is croaky mainly because of an intense sporting performance. ;-)

Don’t get me wrong, I am a happy camper at the moment. After riding my bike for three consecutive days – a luxury I haven’t known for considerable time, I am in fact finally feeling a fit man again. I am happy I decided to get back in the saddle for L2P.

I left for the London to Paris event last Wednesday completely underdone in training time and intensity. Covering 540kms in three days while riding from London to Paris was not something I was anticipating with confidence. But it all went superb, much better than what I could have hoped for. Being in good company always stimulates the need to have a good crack at it.

Riding with the likes of Stephen Roche, James Cracknell, Geoff Thomas and other sporting heroes does make one dig that bit deeper. The riding was great fun, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The first and last day we experienced fantastic weather conditions, only interrupted by a very soggy ride on Friday morning. The logistics were impressive; the support crew was exceptionally professional and the atmosphere absolutely buzzing with the energy of all involved.

The ride into Paris was awesome; we were greeted by hundreds of family members and partners and enjoyed the culinary expertise of the chefs at the Pullman Hotel during a sumptuous gala dinner last Saturday night.

But it wasn’t all play and no work during my three day stint on the bike.  In cycling, the weeks before the biggest event of the season - the Tour de France - are packed with lots of parley and negotiating. It’s not different for me this year. Luckily, I had Sabine, my wife and personal assistant with me during the rides. Some of the other participants expressed their amazement because I was taking calls on two different phones during the pit stops and lunch breaks. I talked to riders submitting applications via their manager or by themselves, co-workers and future staff members, etc. We all need to get on with our job and work never stops this time of the year.

Hence, my voice being croaky. I talked all day on the bike and didn’t have a quiet moment off it either ;-)

 I’m not complaining, it’s definitely all worth it as the team sky project is developing well. The chatter and echoes are building up in and outside of the peloton, and I’m being contacted by journalists just about every day; wanting an update and asking me which riders are on their way to team sky.  I know some are annoyed because no details are given out, and there are members of the press publishing their own inaccurate account on the situation, coloured by rumours and speculations. It sometimes makes me smile; mostly it makes me raise my eyebrows, on rare occasions it irritates me. One moment, I was wondering if maybe I should follow the massive twitter trend rushing through the peloton?? Nah, don’t have the time for that really. And things would be so much duller if every supposition and theory would be confirmed or denied immediately...

What’s up for me the coming weeks? Le Tour de France of course!

 From the 1st till the 5th and from the second rest day through to Paris, you can find me there. I’ve got a lot of meetings scheduled and some discussions are actually set to be done during some bike rides. Very much looking forward to it.

I’m expecting to see a strong Cadel Evans on the roads to Paris. I also hope to witness a great battle between the Schlecks and Contador in the mountains.
Carlos Sastre, the defending champion will be there to spice things up no doubt. It’s going to be a great month of July!

Ok mes amis, am going back to work on my, by now infamous, “Team sky wish list” ;-)
A Bientôt !

ps For more pics taken during L2P, check out the gallery.