Peaking too soon!

There’s been a lot of concern expressed in the press about the form of certain riders, such as the Schlecks, ahead of this year’s Tour de France. Opinion seems to be divided as to whether they’re where they should be with just over two months to go. To be honest, when it comes to my own form, I’m not too sure what a peak looks like. That said a couple of key markers were established in Saturday’s La Louis Caput.

I had ridden strongly earlier in the week with my beloved who had even remarked upon it. While my Garmin faithfully records all the details, for me it’s often about how much time and distance my beloved puts into me on our rides. He’ll typically ride off up an incline, turn, ride back down and remount with me. The point at which our paths cross is always telling and it says far more about my form than his. I’d ridden the rest of the week on my own, faithfully following the training program. But it’s been so windy and I find riding into a constant headwind, praying that the wind’ll change direction, to be rather tiring. It’s like wading through treacle.

Saturday, my beloved expressed a desire to ride on without me. He’ll often ride all or part of one of these courses with me. After all it’s not about time as we’re merely collecting points for the club with our participation. Although, on my return, I will compare how I did the previous year. I reminded him about the route (there’s no arrows) and we set off quite late, leaving directly from home as I’d collected our frame numbers the day before. As I headed toward Vence, I was aware that I was about to do my best ever ascent, time-wise. Strange as I wasn’t feeling particularly on-song and I’d stopped twice to blow my nose. The wind had stirred the pollen from the trees and aggravated my allergy.

As I headed toward the base of Col de Vence, I was overtaken by the broom wagon. Never before seen on any of my previous participations in this event. Clearly, I was usually so far behind that no one had noticed that I was behind rather than in front of said wagon. The thought did cross my mind that we might be keeping one another company, again not an uncommon occurrence for me. Even stranger was the thought that I might not actually be last.

Some of my clubmates run a bike shop at the base of the climb, I waived as I sailed past. The first bit is steep so I shifted into my lowest gear and churned away. I’m particularly fond of this climb, know it well, ride it frequently and am aiming to peak for a race up it in September. It’s also one of my favourite descents largely because you can see the on-coming traffic and therefore make use of the entire road with a fair amount of impunity.

This was my maiden ascent of the year and I was keen to check out progress on a modern house which had been built on one of its early switchbacks. I was surprised to see that they still hadn’t landscaped the garden.  When you ride at my speed you’ve time to make quite an inventory of the area. The view back down to the coast was unusually spectacular. Later in the season it tends to be obscured by a heat haze.

I was going well. So well that I never even noticed my bete noire, the two kilometre stretch between 6km and 4km to go. I wouldn’t say I was motoring but the splits were looking promising. I’d even overtaken a number of people. I was overtaken by a group from one of the neighbouring clubs who invited me to ride the longer course (150km rather than 100km) with them. They were, of course, joking. I replied that I would if they pushed me. That’ll be a “No” then!

I had my photograph taken as I wound my way up the climb. Another first, he’s normally long gone by the time I reach this point. I said hello again to the boys in the broomwagon who confirmed there were plenty of riders behind me. Must have left it very late to start! I passed the sign telling me it was only two kilometres to the horse-ranch which is 500km from the summit. I was feeling good, I picked up the pace. I was on target to better my best-ever time by over 5 minutes: what an incentive. I got out of the saddle and as I did so I noticed the rider descending and about to cross my path was none other than my beloved. Damm, I was going to have to stop.

It would appear that my beloved wasn’t feeling too well. The combined effects of a late night, a busy week and the side-effects of the medicaments taken to fight off his gout. Now he didn’t necessarily expect me to stop, but I could tell by the look on his face that he was hoping I would. Ah well, my record breaking climb would have to be postponed!

Swimmingly

As part of my training programme I’ve been swimming on alternate days. I verified with my coach that he didn’t expect me to be steaming up and down the pool during my 30 minute session. Instead, the pressure from the water is intended to help my legs recover from the previous day’s exertions. I should add that operation “Elimination of silly tan lines” is going nowhere. I typically swim as soon as the pool opens, while the pool is still partly in the shade, and then beat a hasty retreat. On the other mornings, I’ve ridden for 3-4hours in the sunshine which has only exacerbated the situation. I feel it’s now reached irretrievable proportions.

My beloved, having spent all day yesterday (a French Bank Holiday) meeting with potential clients in Nice,  is spending today with the same clients before heading off to a meeting in London on Saturday. We were supposed to be departing on vacation on Saturday morning. Our departure has been postponed by a day. However, strict rules on the use of Blackberries and the internet will be in-force while we’re away. I have to take this draconian approach otherwise my beloved will say “I’ve just got to tend to a couple of emails” and two hours later I’ll still be waiting. The only reason I drag him away on vacation is to get him away from the office and work. In this respect cycling is an excellent distraction. My beloved, like me, has not mastered the art of cycling while answering his mobile and once, in situ, near the big screen, at the arrival town, it’s almost impossible to hear oneself think let alone conduct a conversation on one’s mobile. So I’ll be encouraging him to post a holiday message on all his email accounts and mobile phone.

The French newspapers are full of Thomas Voeckler’s heroic defence of the yellow jersey and, to a lesser extent, the exploits of the other French riders on yesterday’s stage. The stage winner, Olympic Champion Sammy Sanchez recording his first ever Tour win, barely gets a look in. However, one would expect parochial and partisan reporting. I’ve no doubt that the pink pages of Gazzetta will have been evaluating the performances and chances of Messrs Cunego and Basso. The pages of La Marca have given more than adequate coverage to Sanchez, both his win and his on-going opportunities. Naturally enough, Contador’s form, or lack of, is examined in detail. So I thought if I really wanted to appreciate Sammy’s win I should head on over to check out the pages of Berria, the only newspaper written in Basque.  And sure enough:-

Super Samu

“Frantziako Tourra

Luz Ardiden Sanchezena izan da

Euskaltel-Euskadikoak “ametsa bete” du Tourreko Luz Ardidengo etapa irabazita. Samuel Sanchezek, arriskatuta eta urrutitik erasoa jota, gogor eutsi dio helmugaraino, eta azkenean Vanendert atzean uztea lortu eta 12. etapa irabazi du. Laranja izan zen atzoko kolore nagusia. Ehunka euskal zale izan ziren atzo, festa giroan, etapaz gozatzen. ”

While, I’m assuming none of my readers speak Basque , I think it’s pretty easy to work out what’s being said in the introductory paragraph. Needless to say Samu was awarded more than adequate coverage for his magnificent win.

Today’s Stage 13 has been billed as one of transition where it’s highly probable that a breakaway containing those riders way out of contention on GC might succeed. The slightly mitigating factor being the distance on the flat to the finish in Lourdes from the base of the Col du Soulor. I rode part of this last year. We cycled from Bagneres du Bigorre to the top of the Col d’Aubisque and then retreated to just below the summit of the  Col du Soulor to have lunch and watch the race unfold both on the road and on the television. You might remember  this was the day Lance got into a small breakaway.  After the race had finished, we rode back. The descent is fast but not technical. Maybe Alberto should light a few candles in Lourdes at the end of today’s 152.5km stage from Pau before climbing into the Saxobank team bus. It’s just a thought.

Stage Postscript: When they showed birds of prey feeding on a carcass during today’s stage I was relieved to see it was a lamb and not a rider. Everyman and his dog tried to get in this morning’s breakaway but it was only when FDJ’s Jeremy Roy, Mr Breakaway 2011, joined a group of 9 other riders that the break stuck. That break blew apart on the Col d’Aubisque but it was on the descent that Thor Hushovd (Garmin), one of the breakaways,  made what was to be the winning move to catch first David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and then the luckless Roy, within 2.3km of the finish, to register his 63rd win. Roy was in tears as he crossed the line in third place. He has taken the spotted jersey and the prize for the day’s most combative rider, but he knew these were scant consolation.  He’d narrowly missed the big one – a Tour stage win.

Progress report

Yesterday was pretty hectic. Nonetheless, I managed to fit in a ride with my beloved. It was short, but tough, thanks to the gale force cross-winds. The afternoon and evening were spent down at the club. Firstly with our regular monthly rendezvous to ascertain progress on the Kivilev. Everything is going according to plan although we still need more volunteers.

In between the end of that meeting and the start of the next one, I managed to check on the progress of Stage 3 of Paris Nice. In short, escapees brought back before final climb, Thomas Voeckler went on ultimately unsuccessful attack, bunch sprint finish, one of the favourites fell in final straight taking out a few others (no harm done), yellow jersey changed hands, Matt Goss, winner of sprint,  now GC leader.

Our next meeting was a weekly catch up for members of the club’s management team followed  by the club’s monthly meeting of its members. We finished with a BBQ and crepes. Well, it was Pancake Day. This ensured a greater than usual turn out. The wives, on International Women’s Day, had made 100s of pancakes. My 50 were the first to be devoured. I make them rather thicker than is the practice in France, all the better for soaking up the Grand Marnier. I also sweeten them, so there’s no need to add sugar and, quite frankly, they’re as delicious cold as they are hot.  Luckily I had held a few back for my beloved, otherwise he would have missed out.

The Treasurer, whose partner’s surprise birthday party a number of us are attending next Saturday (clashing with Milan-San Remo), has asked me to make a cake. I think she’s hoping for something rather more glamorous than my pain d’epice and I shan’t disappoint. After my training ride this morning, I  spent a couple of hours combing the recipe books for something suitably celebratory and I think I’ve found it in Eric Lanlard’s “Master Cakes”.  It’s going to be quite challenging finding enough time to make this and the cakes for the Gentleman.  I may have to make more cakes this week end and then pop them into the freezer down at the club (mine’s full) until next week end.  

Unusually, I’ve got my training plan for the next couple of months which I will be following steadily. This month I have the 8km, two-man, time-trial with my beloved next week end and then an 150km Audax (av. speed of 22km/hr) the following one. In the subsequent three months there are sportifs most week ends. My aim is, as always, to improve on my times of the previous year. Having had my Garmin now for just over 12 months, I can more readily appreciate the progress I’ve made. Of course, it’s less easy to understand what has brought about the improvement: weight loss, training, improved technique, or a combination of all of them?  Frankly, who cares? I’m getting quicker and that’s what really matters.

Spot on

So many things in life are about being in the right place, at the right time. You may not even be the best person for the job, but proximity is everything. If you’re the first person someone senior sees soon after they’ve had the thought or idea, then you may well find that an unexpected opportunity falls into your lap.

This has happened to me on several occasions, most notably being put in charge of my previous employer’s search for new premises in which I led the team that ultimately acquired the site, and planning permission, for the iconic Erotic Gherkin. On a more sombre note, my family and I missed the Harrods bomb by mere minutes. So it’s fair to say that, of course, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Today, as forecast, the rain stopped and the sunshine came out from behind those sombre clouds, bathing the littoral in sunshine. I went out at about 11 o’clock. At about the same time most of the club rides were returning to base. I bumped into my English friends who ride for another club: first, the husband and then, a bit later, my girlfriend. They’ve both been back in the UK for a while so it was good to see them again.

Rather than do battle with the traffic in Cannes, I decided to do my circuit of Cap d’Antibes. After two circumnavigations, one clockwise and one anti, I criss-cross the Cap riding up and down some short steep climbs. Although my lungs are still a bit congested, I feel my strength is returning and I’m finding the larger gear (39 rather than 34) ensures I ride at a better pace.

On the way back home, as I took the roundabout leading  to Antibes, four riders overtook me. The leading rider shouted “Allez” in my ear. Not a good move: I don’t like surprises, and I almost toppled from my bike into their path. With one foul swoop, the early seasons of PhilGil and Pippo Pozzato would have lain in ruins. Luckily for them, I didn’t fall, but I did decide to give chase.

They got tangled up in the market traffic going back through Antibes and I overtook them (2000 points, 1000 apiece for a Pro Tour rider). They then overtook me (again) and I grabbed the last man’s wheel as we rode through Antibes and back along the coast towards Villeneuve Loubet.  So, I had a rather better work out than I had anticipated. How good? I’ve no idea, I still have to go down to my LBS to get the Garmin fitted on the bike.

I’m now hoping the fine weather persists so we can enjoy tomorrow’s club ride with a pointage at Nice Matin (a stone’s throw from the club), before we head to Aspremont. The forecast is for more rain tomorrow afternoon and Monday with the sunshine making a welcome return on Tuesday. Let’s hope it’s right.

Assistance not required

This afternoon, one of my neighbours made a show of looking for the motor on my bike. Frankly, I was flattered particularly as he’d just seen me ride back up to the apartment on an average 7% gradient.

To be honest, when I first heard about mechanical doping it did cross my mind that it might be handy dandy for my forthcoming adventure.  Apparently called the “Gruber Assist”, the motor is inserted down the seat tube and interacts with a standard bottom bracket axel via a bevel gear unit. It is practically invisible with an external on/off switch plus a battery pack that is mounted in a saddle bag. The total weight of all of the components is 1900 grams, it can provide 100 watts of power, but sadly not for the extended periods I would require.

The temptation to cheat was merely a passing fancy. However, it’s surprising how often one is tempted. Back in 1994, I took part in the London Marathon. I hadn’t done too much training but knew I could always walk it. During the race an enterprising young fellow offered me the loan of his anorak for a fiver so that I could nip down an alley way and avoid running all around Canary Wharf. I turned down his offer, telling him it would be cheating. Quick as a flash, he said that no one would know. I replied that I would know and that’s all that matters. I continued on my way to what is probably one of the slowest marathons ever: finishing in 7 hours 28 minutes and 30 seconds. But I did wonder whether anyone took him up on his offer.

In many of the local cyclosportifs, it’s quite possible to set off ahead of the official start time, take short cuts or even pretend you’ve done the longer parcours instead of the shorter one.  But, there’s nothing to be gained from trying to fool yourself, or anyone else for that matter. Besides, my Garmin doesn’t lie.

I’ll have mustard with mine

Yesterday was my first attempt at La Lazarides. I did the shorter parcours (107km) accompanied by my beloved. Or should that be part accompanied, since he lost me on the way back. I know: careless, foolish, misguided or what? It’s not a good idea to lose the person with the map, the money, the car keys and the mobile phone.

The club was severely underrepresented: only three of us. But when I’d questioned a few of the regulars as to why they weren’t taking part, they all said it was more like a race than a randonnee. Actually, that was true. Fewer participants, generally only the better club riders (me being one of the exceptions), police assistance, cars covering the breakaways on both parcours and two pro-Tour riders who kindly just kept pace with the (amateur) leaders.

Riders at the start

 

It was a lovely parcours and we both agreed we should ride more often over this terrain. It starts using the back-end of the smaller l’Antiboise parcours and then heads on past the dreaded Lac St Cassien (again, loads of traffic) before ascending to Mons via Fayence, but thankfully not using the Mur de Fayence (26%). Weaving one’s way through market day in Fayence was a little tricky. Thereafter, the roads were quiet and it was a great climb up to Mons and the feed zone where they had real coke, albeit lukewarm, and some delicious ham rolls. Then there was a fast descent back down via  Callian and Montaroux which was were I overtook my beloved. The leaders of the 150km parcours came steaming past me and I tucked onto the end of the group. Much to everyone’s surprise, I manage to stay with them on the descent. My beloved claimed he was waiting for me at the Montaroux fountain. I never saw him as I zoomed through the town. Of course, as soon as the gradient changed, I was back on my lonesome.

I rode to the control point at the foot of the Tanneron and advised them I’d lost my husband before continuing on up the hill. I assumed he’d soon catch me up. I was wrong, it took him until the final couple of kilometers. But what a welcome when we got back to the Stade Maurice Chevalier, a BBQ no less. Never have sausages, bread and mustard tasted so good. I’m going to suggest this for the Kivilev. Having consumed this feast, it started to rain in earnest, so we skipped the tombola and headed for home.

Once home we had to check our stats on the Garmin: more climbing and a faster average speed than La Louis Caput. Who would have thought it? It was a very rolling parcours with the final climb up the Tanneron coming at just after 80kms. There were even a few uphill stretches in the final couple of kilometers.

My legs felt tired today and I really laboured up the hill to Pre du Lac but after a gentle ride this morning they’re now feeling a lot better. The promised stormy weather held off and, as a result, I’m hoping that the forecast for the forthcoming days will improve. I’ve plenty of mileage on the programme for next week.

My beloved boys in claret and blue went down 3-1 away at Man City, effectively blowing any lingering chance of 4th or 5th spot in the Premiership. Still, with Liverpool losing to Chelsea today, we should hold onto 6th: no mean feat.

Ten minutes before full-time OGCN were comfortably leading 3-0 away at Boulogne, a team heading for relegation. Final score: 3-3! Yes, pretty unbelievable but, sadly, all too true. Goodness knows what happened to our defence – totally MIA. 

Over in the Tour of Romandie, as anticipated, Valverde pounced on the final stage to take the overall, Spilak was 2nd and Menchov 3rd. The weather was again truly awful and 56 riders, who were out of contention, got off their bikes. Can’t say I blame them.

Shock, horror

The weather’s been really sunny these past couple of days. I wanted to ride outside yesterday but the programme prescribed some one-legged interval training on the home trainer. This is easily my least favourite bit of the programme but this week’s exercise seemed easier so perhaps my pedal action is improving. However, I did pop down to my LBS to let them know how much I’m enjoying my new toy, the Garmin  500.

This morning was still a bit damp from some overnight rain but it quickly dried up in the warm sunshine. The temperature reached 20 C degrees today; truly wonderful, despite the gale force wind. I had a great ride, waived to Amael Moinard, who like me was training on his lonesome,  before returning home to get ready for my trip to Nice, to New Vision. 

Yes, I’ve decided to take the plunge and have my eyes lasered. I’ve been thinking about it for some time but what’s brought it to a head is the need to replace all my pairs of glasses. The cost of the two options are not dissimilar, so it’s now or never. Today was part I of the process to determine whether or not I’m a suitable candidate, eyeswise. It would appear that I am and now have an appointment with the opthalmic Surgeon who’ll undertake  part II of the assessment and then the  procedure itself. Nice has quite a reputation in opthalmic circles and there are a number of companies offering this service. I opted for New Vision because they support OGCN.

I arrived back home with enough time for a quick snack before heading back to the club for the monthly meeting of our racers to hand out their racing licences. Yesterday, I lent my club house keys to one of my team mates who’s kindly giving some IT instruction to those who are IT illiterate. The DS had assured me that it wasn’t a problem for this evening’s meeting as the Treasurer had agreed to come down and open the club house for us. Knowing that I was going to be there too, and assuming that I had my keys, the Treasurer went on an emergency call out with her husband. The net result was a 45 minute wait in the cold (and dark) for all of us. Interestingly, no one suggested going into the cafe opposite to have a drink and wait for the keys to arrive.  

Before heading off to bed, I decided to check the start time of the television coverage of this week end’s races and discovered, to my horror, that RTBF Sat has discontinued broadcasting. This was the channel on which I used to watch all the Belgian classics, largely because of its superior and lengthier coverage. Now what am I going to do? Coverage in France is only on Sport+. It’s no good, I can see that I’m going to have to subscribe to Canal+. Meanwhile, I’ll be checking the net for links. I’ll probably end up watching it either on a Norwegian or Japanese channel!

It always pays dividends

During Monday, my beloved sent me a number of text messages. The first to confirm that he had arrived at the British Consulate and was at the head of the queue. The second to tell me that his replacement passport was being processed and would be ready for collection at 16:00, so he’d be home that evening. Of course, it’s unlikely that any of  this would have happened so swiftly without the groundwork I undertook last week and over the week end. I hope my beloved appreciates it, but sadly I fear not. I have smoothed his path for so long that he has no idea of what life would be like without me. Am I replaceable? Hell yes, everyone is. But we all know he’ll never find anyone that does as much for him as I do. Let’s hope he never has to find that out.

It was raining steadily on Monday morning, so I stuck to the programme and undertook  a one hour ride on the flat, albeit on the home trainer, in a fasted state, before undertaking my exercises, with some stretching to finish. Tuesday’s interval training went well and then, joy of joys, my Garmin had arrived so I popped down to my LBS to have it fitted. Once, I’ve dropped my beloved at the airport this morning, I’m going to be spending some time this afternoon understanding exactly how it functions.

It’s a 3hr ride today so I’m hoping it’ll stay fine for long enough. The outlook seems to be improving and it looks as if it’s not going to be as wet this week as originally forecast, though the week end does not look promising. But then that’s days away.

I note that Mark Cavendish has returned to racing at Ruta Ciclista del Sol. However, the man of the moment appears to be Oscar Freire (Rabobank) who’s notched up two stage wins. Cav’s probably still suffering the after-effects of antibiotics taken to clear up his dental problems. Mark, it could have been oh so different if only someone at HTC-Columbia HQ had forwarded my email to you.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of sporting action, apart from the winter Olympics, on the horizon. Starting with this evening’s FA Cup replay (AVFC v Crystal Palace). Then, this week end, there’s Omloop Het Nieuwsbald and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the later unfortunately clashes with the League Cup Final (Man U V AVFC) hence I’ll simultaneously be watching two tv screens – multitasking. This also clashes with my husband’s arrival back from Chicago. Maybe, I’ll ask him to get a taxi!

Happy Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day, my beloved is buying me a Garmin 500 and, believe me, when I tell you that you don’t want to know what I gave him. Let’s just say that as a result we missed this morning’s pointage and leave it at that!

 We’ve stopped buying one another cards, largely because the French don’t do greetings cards and so the choice is both limited and rather unimaginative. In fact, on the rare occasions I’m in the UK or US, I stock up on cards which go the into the card drawer (oh yes, I’ve got a drawer where I keep them otherwise I can never find them when I need them). Failing which, I use Moonpig.

I’m not a girl who likes to receive flowers, chocolates or indeed champagne. The first I much prefer to select myself and the next two I am avoiding, how else am I going to lose that lung-crushing extra weight? My beloved has never, ever bought me underwear for Valentine’s or indeed any other occasion. In truth, it would never occur to him to do so but, if it did, he has no idea of my size or preferences. Plus, he would be far too embarrassed to go into a shop and buy it. Jewelry is always acceptable but frankly there’s a limit on how much one can wear and I already have a number of  lovely pieces which rarely see the light of day. 

So, I’m truly delighted with the Garmin which will be arriving next week and with which I shall be able to report back to my coach on my training. There’ll be no hiding now. As a bonus, I’ll be able to map all the club rides  and make them available on the club site. In future, there will no excuses for anyone getting lost.

Lazy Sunday afternoons

According to yesterday’s copy of L’Equipe, and possibly much to no one’s surprise, Wiggo is joining Sky. Jonathan Vaughters has evidently realised the futility in trying to hang on to a rider who wants to be somewhere else. No doubt Garmin will be amply compensated for losing a rider, still under contract, who finished 4th in this year’s Tour. Also, assuming that the 5 delinquent Pro-Tour teams managed to get all their paperwork in order and submitted to the UCI by the deadline, there’s probably going to be no more “big surprises” in 2009.

Regrettably, the weather today was both overcast and humid. However, nothing could dampen the boys’ (and girls’) spirits as we set off this morning for the pointage. I managed to cling onto the back of the peloton as we rode up the route de Grasse. The club hosting the pointage had thoughtfully signposted the way thus preventing most, but not all, from getting lost. A number of clubs arrived at the same time swamping the refreshments table and picking it cleaner than a horde of locusts.

On the way back from this morning’s ride, I picked up the newspapers (L’Equipe, Nice Matin and The Sunday Times) to enjoy over a coffee. There was an interview in The Sunday Times Sports section with David Brailsford which I started to read, anticipating gleaning some interesting titbits about Team Sky or indeed confirmation that Bradley Wiggins was Sky-bound. The interview almost immediately took a strange turn, backtracking to 2004 when David Millar was apprehended by the French police, in the company of Brailsford. At once, I realised it was a Paul Kimmage interview where no doubt there was going to be some pointed homily about doping in the peloton and it was highly improbable that I would learn anything of either use or interest about Sky, or indeed anything related to cycling. In the hope, rather than expectation, that I might be proved wrong. I read the entire interview. I wasn’t.

Instead of going to watch OGCN play Toulouse this evening, we’ve elected to stay at home and finish up a few necessary household chores (no, not the ironing) ahead of our trip to Paris next week. I’ve bought another bookcase which needed assembling. This will house my growing collection of cycling books in the entrance hall thereby alleviating the overcrowding in the main bookcase just outside of the kitchen which is home to my substantial collection of cookery books.

Most women will say that they can never have enough shoes. While I don’t necessarily disagree, given the choice between books and shoes, I will almost always opt for the former, unless you’re offering me a pair of Christian Laboutin’s. If you don’t believe me you are most welcome to come and check my respective collections of both.

My beloved also needed to tend to his collection of citrus trees which are exhibiting a distinct lack of TLC as evidenced by the absence of both fruit and leaves. I am many things, but green fingered I am not. He leaves them in my care during the week at his (and their) peril.

Postscript: 10/12/09 Wiggo’s transfer to Sky confirmed at a press conference this morning over 2 week’s after the L’Equipe story.