The Etape signing on was at Mourenx in the ‘Vélodrome Eddy Merckx’. The track centre had been filled with tents and lorries of the exhibitors and sponsors of the event. Although most of the stuff on show was French, there were some interesting new products to see. Including all the Decathlon range and new clothing from Gore and Adidas. UK based Rapha showed their Sportwool Aubisque jerseys and new gloves.
Giant had some new 2006 bikes, although the main focus of attention was a very fit looking Abraham Olano, who was interviewed. He then hopped onto his new full Dura-Ace (including the new wheels) equipped TCR and ripped around the course in well under six hours, finishing 72nd.
Mavic certainly had their work cut out for them by offering free service support for all Etape riders. This meant a long wait (perhaps you should have got it done before you left?!) and some very tired looking mechanics. They then got up early the next day and drove to places around the route to do the same thing, they saved a fair few people too. Excellent work though.