Wednesday ... only 3 days left till the start of the Tour de France. You can feel the Tour coming, day after day. Yesterday I relaxed a little with my friends and family before leaving. A nice lunch with friends and ... I also tried to play with my kids a little. But it seems like they prefer the company of their own friends. They are 9 and 5, so I understand them. Who at that age would want to listen to adults' stories?

Well, the moment you leave home for the Tour is always a little stressful. You would like to stay with your family a little longer and have time to enjoy life. But then you get to the airport and get on a plane, and sadness gives way to excitement. After all, this is our job and our passion. You know you are off to THE place to be in the month of July. All you have to do is switch your mind in to Tour mode for 3 weeks.

Here in Denmark we've already been talking about the Tour for quite a while, and about cycling in general. I bought the papers in the airport, just to kill some time. My friend Rijs has found a new sponsor. That's great for him and for cycling in Denmark.

As far as we're concerned, we are well prepared for this Tour. Fitte and Brama have done a great job with logistics and organization, and I think we're ready for a good Tour. It's too bad about Stijn, who will have to drop out of the race due to injury.

I know how it feels. In 1994 the same thing happened to me. I was already in Lille for the departure but Dr. Gerard Porte (yes the one from the Tour, le docteur du Tour!) Didn't allow me to leave for a problem similar to Stijn's. Ah, I've never really forgiven him all these years. It would have been my eighth Tour and I surely would have won a stage! How can I ever know for sure? Simply because nobody can say otherwise! Maybe I would have even won two, even Dr. Porte knew that. Perhaps that's why he didn't let me go!

But sometimes, cycling can be brutal. One door closes on Stijn, another one opens for Martin. I'm sure he's going to do well in his first Tour.

Well, this Tour takes off from Liege. It will be special for those of us on the team with Flemish roots. In Belgium it's a little like riding at home. I've lived there before during my professional career and boy, did I get in to some trouble! And I learned Flemish. Yes, I can speak it, why, do you doubt that? I'm sure I speak it better than Gilbert.

You know, from tonight things are going to get serious for three weeks! First of all, Brama, Fitte and I will be talking to the staff and riders. The first thing I'm going to say to them? Learn how to forgive and forget the bad times in a hurry. Sometimes in the race, or after the race in stressful situations, you can say the wrong thing. We're all human, aren't we?

What's important is to relate the things we say and put them in the context of a stressful competition like the Tour. I know they'll understand that. The Tour is not only hard mentally but also physically. That's why it's important to get a good night's sleep. Does that seem silly? Believe me, it isn't. Good sleep is at the root of every success.

This is coming from someone who — Thanks to Doctor Porte — has never won in the Tour! But I've always got plenty of sleep, whether in the seven Tours as a rider or the seven as Director. As Director I've won 30 stages in the Tour. What can you say to that? That it was all the riders? Well, they know darn well that they could never have done it without me. Everyone knows that, even Doctor Porte!

Wishing everyone a good Tour and until next time....Brian Holm(s)