Do you remember when you were young, and your parents would make you start a diary during the summer holidays?
The first day, you?d write a couple of pages on what you?d done, why, and how you felt about it. You might even paste in a museum ticket, or a pressed flower. The next day, well, you didn?t write quite as much, but your diary was still going.
Day three ? you were too busy actually doing things to write about it, which meant that on day four you might catch up and do day three. Or you might not.
And that was pretty much that.
At least I?ve got an excuse for not updating the Paris-Nice blog since Tuesday ? I?ve been very busy getting ignored by riders in hotel lobbies, not riding my bike as much as I?d planned, and missing lunch.
I was ignored by Christophe Moreau on Wednesday, although this might have had something to do with the fact I had challenged him to a game of babyfoot the day before. The so-called champion of France chickened out, explaining half-heartedly that he wasn?t very good. I will regret to my dying day not persuading him to go through with it.
Today, Gert Steegmans ignored me, although I successfully persuaded Cadel Evans to not ignore me and do an interview, basically by not taking no for an answer. There?s something about Evans that makes me do this to him ? the same thing happened at the Dauphiné last year, when he quite clearly would rather have done anything than talk to me. If you?re
reading this, Evans, I?ll see you at the Tour of Romandy. And you?d better have some good answers ready, unlike today.
Things went a little better for me on Thursday, when I didn?t bother going to the stage start, or trying to do anything constructive like interviewing cyclists. Instead, I drove straight to Malaucène, unpacked my bike, and cycled up to Mont Serein. It was bloody freezing.
And because I?d been a bit disorganised, and the climb and descent had taken longer than I?d anticipated, I missed lunch. I get tetchy enough when I don?t eat on a normal day, let alone when I?ve just spent approximately eight trillion calories cycling up and down one of France?s hardest mountains. I found myself in the town of Vaison La Romaine, where my quest for lunch was ultimately frustrated. Eventually I managed to scrape together a tarte aux pommes and a croissant, washed down with milk which tasted of cheese; this might be enough for a sparrow, but not for an angry journalist.
Today?s ride, out to the Col du Tanneron and back, was also curtailed, but not because of my own slackness this time. Instead, it was the fault of the French riot police, the CRS. Somebody, incredibly, had thought it would be a good idea to use them to direct traffic in and around Cannes on the day Paris-Nice came to visit.
Until now, my press pass has got me everywhere I needed to go around the race. But the CRS had other ideas. When I leaned out of the car window and politely indicated that I was Very Important Indeed, and would like to drive to the press room, the CRS goon was having none of it. He said ?non?, then walked away.
When you?re dealing with the CRS, the only thing you need to know is that there is no bargaining with them, no persuading them. They are right and you are wrong. And don?t try to explain things rationally ? that only makes them angry.
Anyway, I did get to the top of the Tanneron, in the end. Nasty headwind on the way back ? if riders like Robert Gesink didn?t ignore me the whole time, I?d give them advice not to get dropped on this section of the race.
Are the CRS having none of it? Email us at email@example.com
Every day this week, Cycling Weekly uses a product provided by one of the teams in Paris-Nice.
Every year at the Tour de France, sponsors give free samples of their wares. It shouldn?t, therefore, have been a problem for Dutch bank Rabobank to give me some of their product, Namely, money.
I ambushed team manager Erik Dekker at his hotel in Macon, softening him up with some guff about the race being a less controlled affair, with so few sprinters in the field.
Then I cut to the chase.
?Give me some money, Erik,? I said.
?You want money? No way,? he answered.
Note to Rabobank ? you?ve got to work on your freebies. You know where to send them.
PARIS-NICE SPONSOR-STRAVAGANZA STANDINGS
Caisse d?Epargne 8/10
Tomorrow, CW takes out a massive loan from Cofidis