Stage two of the Tour Down Under, and the sun has finally gone in, thank goodness. Last year it was 40 degrees every day, and everyone suffered, but today it cooled off a little, although it was still about 20 times hotter than Europe is right now.
I spent the stage with Unibet soigneur Andrew Hillman and it was good to chat with him as we headed to the feed zone. Hillman has worked for teams such as Navigators and Landbouwkrediet, and has now struck gold with newly promoted ProTour squad Unibet.
Unfortunately, though, he was on his own today, which meant trying to pass musettes up to eight riders at once. He quite sensibly thought better of using me as a high-speed waiter, and was hopeful of being able to pull it off alone, even though he hadn't tried handing out so many "since 2003". Four feed bags lighter later, a glum Hillman threw the rest in the Jacques Hanegraaf-driven team car which followed the bunch, and we jumped into the van again to speed to the finishing circuit. "Hmm," he mused. "You could call that a bad day at the officeâ¦"
I should have thought better than to mince about at the stage start in my 1981 Michel Platini-era Saint Etienne shirt today (it's cooler than it sounds â honest). With French teams Agritubel, Ag2r, Credit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom all here at the race, full of football fans in the mechanic and soigneur ranks, there was an equal measure of pats on the back with accompanying "Allez les Verts!" as "There's only one team: Lyon/Paris St Germain/Lille, etc." comments and mock disgust. Wish I had an Italian soccer shirt â that would at least have them all in agreementâ¦