No racing today, as the riders enjoy the first rest day of this year’s Tour, having covered 1,570km (980 miles) since the start in Rotterdam last Saturday. They’ll spend the day at the Alpine ski resort of Morzine-Avoriaz, where yesterday’s stage ended with victory for Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Cadel Evans (BMC) in the maillot jaune, and seven-time winner Lance Armstrong (Radio Shack) out of contention almost 12 minutes in arrears.
For pro cyclists, ‘rest’ is a relative term. They’ll still ride for three hours or so; although the pace will be well below race speed (they average 20-25mph even on the mountain stages) most of us mortals would still struggle to stay with them. It’s easy to forget that the guys who roll home in the autobus half an hour behind the winner are still better than 99.9999% of the rest of us will ever be. Even Dmitriy Muravyev of Kazakhstan, the current lanterne rouge who’s already lost almost 90 minutes to Evans, is a top professional – he wouldn’t be riding for Armstrong’s Radio Shack team if he wasn’t.
When they’re not at the dinner table replacing the 9,000-odd calories they burned on yesterday’s stage, the riders will be on the massage table, where the soigneurs (literally ‘carers’) ease the knots and kinks from tired legs.
Hostilities resume tomorrow, with another eight stages and 1,000 miles of racing before the next rest day in Pau. Many will be wondering if they’ll make it that far. And you can be sure that quite a few of them won’t.
On the tenth day
And it was good.
Nothing to do
But sleep late
Ride three hours
Pack in pasta, then
Let the soigneurs’ magic hands
Ease a thousand miles from leaden legs.
Revel in the chance to feel
Normal in the midst of madness:
Call home, play games, snooze,
Or lose themselves in movies.
Heal, refuel, recover
To do it
Maillot jaune: Cadel Evans (BMC)
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Cervélo Test Team)
KoM: Jerome Pineau (Quick Step)