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Ten days in and I’m starting to get tired. This first block before the first rest day has been quite tough. We haven’t had many crazy-hard days, but every day has been quite long.
The one day that stands out is stage 8 — that day scared me a little. As a climber I was finding it quite hard and still arrived at the finish with ‘Bling’ [Michael Matthews], Peter Sagan and a group of around 35 riders. After so many metres of climbing and hard racing, it really shows the depth and high level of the whole peloton at the Tour de France.
Going back a bit, my roommate Matteo Trentin got third place on stage five. To be honest we didn’t really dwell on it too much. It’s obviously a great result but we came here with a clear plan of a good GC and stage wins. He was happy, but I also think he thought that he was just beaten by better riders on the day. The way he is riding, I wouldn’t be very surprised if he does take a stage win here.
That said, to see Daryl Impey win a stage after all the work he does for the team was amazing and the emotion he had was very special to see. We were staying in quite a nice hotel and weren’t sharing with any other teams, which made for a nice dinner with a good bottle of wine or two to celebrate.
In terms of the GC, our man Adam Yates, is like a lot of the overall contenders: we won’t really find out how he’s going until we get properly into the Pyrenees. At the moment he’s just normal Adam: confident, happy and relatively relaxed which I hope is a good sign for the big mountain test this week. There are certainly some hard stages ahead.
One stage that wasn’t particularly hard was stage 7. It was a 230km, ‘flat’ sprinters stage with 2,300m of climbing. In terms of numbers, it was a super easy, boring stage and possible the easiest race I’ve ever done. But the numbers don’t tell the full story. No matter how hard or easy a stage like that is, it’s still 6 hours 30 minutes on the bike and concentrating for that long, riding through towns and in the bunch, is never easy and actually quite fatiguing.
Grand Tour Eating
One of the most commonly asked questions about racing a Grand Tour is about what we eat. Let me take you through my eating routine:
Starting off in the morning I normally have porridge, yoghurt, fruit, and a slice of bread with some coffee. Nothing more than you’d normally eat.
During the race I might start with around five or six gels and two or three rice cakes. If the racing is easy at the start I will eat all the rice cakes and maybe one gel by the time we get to the feed zone. I’ll top up there with some more real food (rice cakes, banana, nutella, small sandwiches etc.) and maybe an extra gel.
After a stage I’ll maybe have a small amount of Haribo. I personally don’t like to have too many after all the sweet food we eat on the bike but they are very useful for getting some fast carbohydrates in after a stage. Then I will have a bowl of porridge with banana, honey, and a protein yogurt or a protein shake.
Luckily we have a chef at the race and he cooks all our meals. Dinner time is normally a mix of nice fresh salads, two forms of protein — maybe red meat, fish or chicken — and two forms of carbohydrate: white rice and a pasta dish. The Yates boys love a good curry so that’s a regular.
Rest day routine
I’m writing this on the way to the start of stage 10, so the rest day is tomorrow. Normally on the rest days I’ll try to sleep in as much as possible. In last year’s Giro I slept in until midday on the first rest day! Normally breakfast is open between 9-10am and then a group ride starts around 11am. Everyone always does slightly different efforts or intensity during the ride. Hopefully we are in a nice area and can plan a nice route with a coffee shop to stop at.
It also depends on the day after the rest day as to how hard people want to ride or how long. Some people like to get on the home trainer and sweat a little, because the body is so used to sweating that you can retain a lot of fluid on the rest day.
I’m not sure how the media works at the Tour, but maybe we will have a press conference or maybe just Adam will speak to the press. We’ll have a group lunch and then try and relax for a little until massage and dinner. I’m lucky that my girlfriend will come visit as we are quite close to Andorra. So I will try and fit some time in to hang out with her and escape the Tour de France bubble a little.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Some questions from our VeloClub members:
Robert Merkel: How detailed is the plan for the finale of sprint stages?
We have quite a long meeting every morning on the bus and go through the stage in detail, not just the final kilometres. We use an app called VeloViewer which is great for looking at a more detailed stage profile and looking at the route on Google Street View. We also normally have a car driving in front of the race along the course to give us details over race radio about anything we didn’t talk about on the bus.
Nicholas Kerkham: Are you running a lead-out train to get Adam Yates into a safe position?
It’s always very important to make sure we get Adam to 3km to go on the flat stages. If he has a problem after that he would get the same time. But right up until we cross the finish line the team always tries to have someone around him just in case. Normally it’s guys like Durbo [Luke Durbridge] and Chris [Juul-Jensen] doing a lot of the work until around the 3-5km mark and then Impey or Matteo will try and guide him a little.