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by Jack Haig
July 24, 2019
We’re into the third week of the Tour de France and, to be honest, I feel the best I’ve ever felt at this point in a Grand Tour. Maybe it’s because I took a lot of time off with my knee injury so I was fresher coming into the race. Or maybe it was just the way the first 10 or so days were raced and the fact my role during those days was to conserve energy. Obviously I’m fatigued and tired, but nothing like I’ve been in the past.
The last time I wrote here was just before the first rest day. Some people have shocking days after rest days and some people are fine. Adam Yates once told me a story about a rest day in Andorra the year he won the white jersey at the Tour (2016) and was sitting second on GC. His rest-day ‘ride’ was 15 minutes on the rollers at around 6pm because he had been so busy with media. The next day had a super hard start, but thankfully he was fine.
Luckily in this Tour we have had relatively flat, ‘easy’ stages after both rest days. After the first rest day the breakaway went almost as soon as we passed kilometre 0, so it gave everyone time to ease back into the racing.
Now that we’ve won three stages at the Tour, the pressure is definitely off us a little bit. When Daryl Impey won on stage 9 that actually made the team more hungry to get another win because it seemed more possible and the momentum was there. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if we get another one before the Tour finishes. Everyone in the team is still in super shape, happy, and enjoying the Tour.
Simon Yates is clearly flying. I tried to go in the break both days Simon won, but it didn’t work out for me. There are now three mountain stages left and I guess all of those days the team will be to trying to get another stage win with either Simon, Adam (now that he’s out of GC contention) or myself. I will try and get up the road and see what I have in the legs.
While this is my first Tour de France it is my fifth Grand Tour and I’ve definitely progressed since that first Vuelta back in 2016. The power numbers don’t really get much better — maybe a little bit every year, but we’re talking maybe 5-15 watts. What you improve on is the ability to do repeated efforts, move around the peloton, and manage your body during races — including rest, food and recovery.
The training changes slightly over time as well; again not a lot but you learn what works for you and what times of the year are best for certain training loads.
Improving the mental aspect helps a lot too — just being more comfortable in the environment and learning to be relaxed, happy, and enjoy what you’re doing. I’m very lucky that at Mitchelton-Scott we have a great group of staff and riders and that makes the ‘job’ much easier. I truly believe that being mentally happy and not stressing too much has a massive impact on results.
At this point of the Tour there are definitely things I’m starting to miss about “real life”. This is going to sound super weird, but I miss going to the supermarket and cooking and making my own food. We are really lucky with the two chefs we have and the food that is provided is amazing, but after three weeks of pasta and rice and buffet-style eating I really crave my own style of food.
I also miss not being on a schedule every day. Sometimes at the Tour it feels like you never actually get any ‘relaxed’ time — people always want something or to check on you. Again they only do it because they care and we have amazing staff, but being able to wake up when you want and do whatever you want during the day is something I miss. Of course I also miss being with my girlfriend and dog, and looking after the cafe/restaurant we own in Andorra.
But so far I’ve really enjoyed my experience at the Tour and I would love to come back. It is a level above every race in just about every way and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Until next time,
Haig’s data from stages 9 through 15 of the Tour de France. As a reminder, a TSS (training stress score) of 100 is earned by the equivalent of a one-hour maximum effort.