I think everybody is looking for Paris. Everybody is very different, but personally, I put Paris in my top three cities in the world. San Francisco, London, and Paris. I love it. I just love Paris. I love the buildings, I love the history of Paris. I love the museums. I think it's really a fantastic city. I went down the first time in 1976 to see the Tour de France with my mother. I went to my first concert in 1976 with my mother in Paris. She loved everything French. I always got something special from Paris. I was riding in 1982-1983 for Roubaix also. I grew up with the old French, so I liked it. I liked it a lot. I love the French arrogance, I love the French lady smoking Gauloises and sitting in a French cafe on Monday morning. Getting up early Monday morning, going, having your coffee, and seeing the french women going to work... it is fantastic. Champs-Elysees, you know, all of the shops... Sometimes I stay after the Tour presentation in November. If I have a meeting in Paris, I'll stay two days more. People will ask me "What are you doing in Paris?" ... what am I doing? I walk maybe 20km a day. I see museums. Paris is a fantastic city. I love the Eiffel Tower. Normally I bring my kids. They have been there three years in a row.
Getting to Paris after our riders have been through three weeks of pain. You finish the Tour de France, you get a better cyclist. Now, you are real rider. You did something in your life. You finished the Tour de France. You come to Paris, with all your riders, and you just have so much respect. They really did something special. The Tour de France is the biggest. We cannot discuss it. I can say it is a big honor to get to Paris. You have to remember to enjoy it also. Being part of that big thing called Tour de France is not work. It's a lifestyle. We love, we like, we get addicted to it. People won't understand that, but you get addicted to the Tour when you are here. I got a question from the Danish media, if I'm happy that I'm in Paris. Actually, no, I'm not. I love the Tour. I don't feel like going home.
I feel like, being with our team going around, it's a little more than a normal job. About my riders at this Tour: I really consider all of them like our bad boys. We have our children, we have to believe in them even when they don't believe in themselves anymore. We have to believe and then push them a little bit more. Sometimes we are hard on them. Almost too hard. But at the end of the day, when you have these kids at "home," you try to make them better. You're never hard on them because you try to hurt them. You're hard on them because you're trying to help them. Brama, Wilfried and I have 60 years of experience together. We know more than the riders. We are very much smarter than the riders. All the excuses and complaints, we've been there and done that. If it didn't happen to us, it happened to someone else. We're tired also. We're on our knees also. But at the end of the day, I'm really proud of our riders.
I think our riders here, we did not win a stage. That is life. They are always fighting. They were fighting, we lost some days, but we saw riders like Dries Devenyns standing up and fighting like a mad dog. Fighting for the win two times. We saw Kevin De Weert on a mountain stage going in and fighting. Even Bert Grabsch, who was sick. Peter was also sick, and he came back with great ambition. When I saw he was sick, I didn't even consider him for the time trial yesterday. I didn't even expect top 50, and he was 4th! And Jerome Pineau attacking too, he got dropped, and fought to survive with Brama really kicking his butt. I love the action in the car, when you're yelling at the riders, "c'mon guys! eat it! Dig deep, you can do it!" They really believe it when you tell them.
Even Levi is riding hard, chasing down 17 riders. We lost Chava. You saw him the first week — he is great for the morale. I take it quite personal if somebody says or write something negative or bad about our riders After all they are kind of my kids. I can blame them, but if somebody else starts to blame them, I will always defend them. Because they fight like mad dogs and I'm proud of them. Just like my kids at home, for both the good and bad. I hope they all will be World Champions some day.
It's not just the riders who have an incredible experience of ups and downs. Every staff member at the Tour de France can write a little book about their experience. I can promise you, each would be pretty good. Every day brings something new for everyone. The mechanics, I say to them every day, "gentlemen, panic is right around the corner." It can be anything. We can have car tire punctures. We had a mechanic who squeezed his finger in a car door. Everything can happen in the Tour and it's not just with the cyclists. There could be some good novels about the Tour, and that is why people love it. People on the street so close to their heroes and see how tired they are. I really love it. In the team bus you can feel it. It's never going to be like office work, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sometimes you have to love also when you're really beaten, there's something great in that also. There's something great in a big win, but also something in a big loss. You have to realize that. When you see a break of 38 riders and nobody is in the break from your team, you have to realize it's a big blow, but there's something great in it. You have to let all the anger out and move on. You learn from that more than the wins. Vive le Tour.