Over 20 TV cameras and maybe 150 journalists crowded into the grounds of the Hôtel Parc Beaumont for Team Sky’s second rest day press conference in Pau this afternoon.
Bradley Wiggins demonstrated just how comfortable he now is in the role of race leader by looking somewhat unfamiliar without a yellow jersey on his shoulders.
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In a white Team Sky T-shirt, he sat midway along a line of his team mates, and breezed through all the questions thrown at him. This time round it was us journalists who’d got the grilling after spending too long waiting in the sun.
On the more serious topics, it was by and large the stuff we’ve heard all week: Wiggins was taking things one day at a time, his team mates were all stars and he was being very unsentimental about the job at hand.
Those legendary climbs they’d be going over tomorrow, stooped in history: “They’re just roads that go up,” he said.
Repeatedly Wiggins talked about ticking the boxes, as we in the audience ticked off a list of phrases frequently wheeled out in press conferences.
But we shouldn’t take the Mickey too much. It is thanks to Sky’s box ticking and meticulous approach to preparing for the Tour de France that a British rider happens to be in such a position.
Wiggins always takes us on an interesting diversion somewhere along the line though. This morning, he told us, he’d received a neckerchief accompanied by a video message from five-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain. What did his former hero say to him say, someone questioned.
Dunno, replied Wiggins. “It was in Spanish.”
Team Principal David Brailsford also spoke to the press at length, but only after dropping a disclaimer at the beginning about how absolutely shattered he was after getting lost during a morning spin over a couple of Pyrenean cols.
That considered, Brailsford dropped a cracker of a joke just a couple of minutes later ,warning “the closer we get [to the finish], the more risk we have of the c-word… complacency”.
Much of Brailsford’s spiel was along these lines, batting away questions that assumed Wiggins the win already, the team’s leadership and – just hypothetically speaking, Dave – what sort of team they’d come back with next year should the race be more mountainous.
As far as the riders are concerned, tomorrow’s stage will be quite mountainous enough as it is with the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresoude all on the agenda.
But for the rest of today they had a brief respite from the race and we left them to it. For just a few hours it was time to catch up with their families and friends and take their mind off the Tour altogether.
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