Luke Evans is motorbike driver for top cycling photographer Graham Watson at the Dauphine Libere. Aside from piloting motorbikes, Luke is an author, freelance journalist and former editor of Cycle Sport magazine. A selection of Graham’s photos can be seen in our gallery section.

Sunday, June 15, final stage St Jean de Maurienne-Grenoble 128km

Coming to you after breakfast on the morning of the final stage of the Dauphine, I am sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Savoy in St Michel de Maurienne, which is a great place to stay (they welcome all types of biker) if you want to access some of the legendary alpine climbs nearby. Col de Madeleine is here, the Glandon too.

A couple of turns brings you to the foot of the Col du Telegraphe and from there you can climb the Galibier.

We are not far from the beautiful Croix de Fer and also La Toussuire, where the queen stage of the race climbed to a much anticipated, and prayed for, exciting finale yesterday.

Unlike the day before when we missed the only bit of action on the final climb, this time we got lucky and were taking our turn getting photos of the Valverde group on La Toussuire when Cadel Evans put in his big attack, swinging across the road and slowly pulling away from the yellow jersey. I tried to keep on the mirrors and accelerate with him with just the Belgian moto driven by Guy alongside.

Dauphine Libere 2008

At last it looked like Valverde might have to really go deep to defend his lead against second placed Evans, but the Aussie just didn’t have the initial zip, the killer power surge, to create a workable gap. And when the vengeful Leipheimer chased him down that spelled the end for Evans’ hopes. Leipheimer had moaned about Evans’ tactics the day before, saying that he had helped Valverde just to distance himself from being a threat in third place.

Today’s stage is a short one and although there are three tough climbs few expect an upset to the overall standings unless something exceptional happens.

I have had fun this week looking at bikes with Andy Jones and we have been trying to top trump each other with the nerdiest details. He got me yesterday big time pointing out the various ways by which the little plastic race numbers are attached to the bikes. Gone are the days of a brazed on pip on the top tube just behind the head tube. Carbon frames often don’t have the space so the numbers must go somewhere else.

Dauphine Libere 2008

On the Silence-Lotto Ridleys (super nice bikes) Andy showed me a little carbon spar, about 10cm long which fits behind the back brake and extends at 45 degrees rearward. The race number is attached to this spar and Jones reckons they are supplied by BMC.

Another method, as seen on Evans’ bike, is a small metal clip zip tied around the base of extended seat tube. The number slides into the clip and looks like a little rudder.

Dauphine Libere 2008

Not content with this shameless display of nerdity, Andy dealt me a killer blow and pointed out that Aussie champion Matt Lloyd (Ridley on Oz champs colours – pictured above) always rides with his Campag levers in the open position, ie with the quick release button pushed in so that the brakes are further away from the rim. Yeah, I know, I fibbed.

Charly Wegelius stopped and was chatty. He has ridden really well this week, and having just finished the Giro is going really well. This guy is seriously underrated, he’s the best GB climber we’ve got and with a bit more planning by his time he could be a top 20 GC rider in the big Tours. Graham Jones was going that way in the 80’s but got burned out by French teams and it would be good to see Charly ride as a team leader now and again.

Jones (I was getting a gob on by now) had noticed that Liquigas were using a sock thing on their bottles and Wegelius confirmed that it was special material, made in Japan, designed to keep the ultra violet out of the liquids so that they maintain their molecular structure. That way they are absorbed into the body faster.

Dauphine Libere 2008

The team also has pyjamas made from the same stuff and apparently they help clear the body of toxins and make you pee a lot, especially at altitude. Charly said it was a load of, oh, can’t read my notes, sorry.

That’s it for me, I am grabbing my bags at the finish today and heading back to the UK after an incredible month on the Giro and Dauphine. I’ve really enjoyed our daily chat, thanks for listening.

Luke

Dauphine Libere 2008Charly Wegelius and Luke at the Dauphine. Photos by Andy Jones

PREVIOUS DAUPHINE BLOGS

Friday, stage five: Luke spots a new Colnago carbon frame in the peloton

Thursday: At last, says Luke, a proper, exciting stage

Wednesday, stage three: Luke checks out Cadel Evans’ TT bike

Tuesday, stage two: Moto pilot Luke sees Hincapie win

Monday, stage one: Luke spots some prototype gear and talks to Charly Wegelius

Sunday, prologue: Moto pilot Luke is back in action after the Giro