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.
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.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Rest day review (July 17)
Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees
Sprinters’ teams unwilling to work on stage 15
Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack
Froome not winning this year’s Tour is ‘very great sacrifice’
Frank Schleck criticises ‘boring’ Tour de France
Wiggins: Cycling’s new boss?
Wiggins still Sky’s main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees
Millar’s Tour win comes after ‘second chance’
Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire
Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: ‘I’m not some s**t rider that’s come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in ‘dream scenario’
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton
Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials
CW’s Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 15 by Graham Watson
Stage 14 by Graham Watson
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever