Southeast riders: Brent Bookwalter from stage 18 of the Tour de France

All that remains for Bookwalter is the TT and then Paris PHOTO: DeWaele

For first time Tour de France racer Brent Bookwalter the Tour has been a tough experience. In an exclusive to Carolina Cycling News Brent describes how he feels after almost three weeks of racing.

“First of all, I’m empty. I haven’t been in the grupetto lately by choice,” said an exhausted Bookwalter.

While the Athens, Georgia resident is currently sitting in 147th on general classification that result is meaningless. His role on the BMC team is to help team leader Cadel Evans in any way possible: from blocking the wind to shuttling back and forth from the team car for bottles.

Stage 18 was a long day at 200 kilometers, however Bookwalter will soon be joining the elite club of riders who have completed a Tour de France.

“Getting thru each day is a relief. I’m both excited and anxious to wrap up my first Tour de France. But I’m also pretty exhausted all around – physically, mentally, etc.”

Tomorrow is the crucial time trial which will determine the winner of this years Tour de France. Alberto Contador is the odds on favorite to continue his hold on the yellow jersey but Andy Schleck is by no means laying down and has said he is going to fight all the way to Paris.

In a post-stage press conference Schleck said, “I changed my mind when I crossed the finish line today. I will give my maximum in the time trial and I’m sure I will go well. I can still see the yellow jersey in front of me so I’ve recently changed my mind about what I said yesterday.”

For Bookwalter the time trial is just a stage to get through.

“I think once again making it safely across the line and within the time cut will mean a decent day.”

For Greenville resident George Hincapie and teammate of Bookwalter, this is his 15th participation in the Tour and it can not end soon enough. He posted on Twitter after today’s stage, “I think I counted every k of the stage today. Seemed to have lasted an eternity. I’m ready for Paris.”