Jack Haig’s Tour de France Diary: Daily routines and TTTs
What does a Tour de France rider's daily routine look like? And how do team time trials compare to individual time trials? This and a whole lot more in Jack Haig's latest diary from the Tour de France.
Before starting my first Tour de France I didn’t know exactly how I would feel. But now seeing it a few days in, I think it gets hyped up to be a little more than what it actually is. It’s definitely bigger than any other bike race we do all year, the speed is a little higher, there is a little more stress, and there are more people on the side of the road, but it’s not as crazy as you might think. That said, I am looking forward to getting to the mountains and seeing the crowds up there.
Everything at the Tour does take that little bit longer though. For example, to get to and from sign-on there are a lot more fans and media that want to stop you for a photo, a signature, or an interview. Most of the time I have no problem with that, but after 10 selfies, or signing a couple random pieces of paper for fans, you sometimes run a little too late for comfort. Sometimes I just need to say “Sorry!” and sprint to sign-on!
Of course I’m a little bit nervous. We have a really strong chance of getting Adam Yates a good result and I want to perform to my best to help him and the team achieve that. I obviously worked very hard to get here, but until we get to the mountains it’s hard to know how I’m actually going in a full-on race situation.
One big difference I’ve noticed with the Tour is that there are many more Australians on the side of the road and at the start areas than I expected. This also shows how much bigger and international the Tour is compared to any other race on the calendar. I ran into my old coach Tim Decker before stage one which was pretty cool. He helped me as a 16-17-year-old in Bendigo.
My girlfriend will hopefully come and visit on the rest days because both are quite close to our home in Andorra. It can be quite tricky to see friends and family during a race as big as the Tour.
I forgot to take a photo of all the kit we got given before the start, but here is a rough list of everything we get:
We also got a new model of Scott sunglasses which was a nice surprise. They fit well and look really nice.
Scott also announced a new bike at the Tour, but I actually received mine during the Dauphine. I masked the special paint with some black tape and after Dauphine I trained on it while I was at home. Otherwise it would have been quite hard to come to a race and be comfortable on the first stage with a brand new bike that’s been completely redesigned.
Some riders did ride the new bike for the first time at the start of the Tour, but I was quite lucky to be able to get comfortable on it beforehand. I’ve had quite a few riders in the peloton come up to me and comment on how nice the new bike is. The paint job looks great and the design of all the integrated cables is super-clean.
As far as my daily routine goes, it always depends on the start time of the stage and how far the transfer is to the start of the race. But normally it looks like this:
– Breakfast around one hour before we need to leave the hotel. In this hour we eat, pack our bags, brush our teeth and leave our suitcases outside ready for the soigneurs to take to the truck to move to the next hotel.
– Then it’s relaxing on the bus during the transfer to the start, Normally I will listen to a podcast, have a little browse on Twitter (it’s surprising how much useful information you can find out about the day’s stage on Twitter). We then pin our numbers on, have a pre-race meeting where we talk about everyone’s role for the day, look at VeloViewer to go through the stage, have a coffee, and sign on.
– My pre-race routine is to simply sit down the back of the bus and try and use that time to relax while the rest of the other guys are at the front of the bus. I personally don’t really do anything special before the start.
– Race for 4-6 hours.
– After the race it’s straight to the shower, then we take in some food to recover while we are on the bus to the next hotel. At the hotel it’s normally a couple hours from when we arrive to the hotel until dinner time. In this period we have a massage (which is about an hour long) and then a physio appointment if it’s necessary.
I try and fit in a phone call to my girlfriend and catch up a little, find out how the cafe is going and what our dog has been up to. I don’t really like talking about the racing on the phone — our day is so jam-packed with bike racing talk it’s nice to just talk about other things for a while.
– Then it’s dinner time which is normally anywhere between 8-9pm. I normally get back to the room about 10pm and there is an hour to kill with some random time on the internet while I fit in 20 minutes of stretching.
My roomate for the Tour is Matteo Trentin. He’s very ‘Italian’ (anyone that knows Italians will know what I mean!). He’s a pretty relaxed guy, speaks English well, but to be honest we don’t speak that much because he’s always on the phone! We both have a pretty quiet pre-bedtime routine — I normally turn off the phone and computer at around 11pm and then read a book for half an hour before putting on my eye mask and putting in ear plugs.
That gives you a sense of how busy our days are. It’s much more than just the 4-6 hours of racing you see on the TV.
Stage 2 – Team Time Trial
The TTT went well – well we thought it did anyway. When we crossed the line everyone expected a better result because it felt like we rode quite well, but finishing 11th was a little disappointing. It goes to show how much teams are investing in TTT and the finer details of every aspect. If you look back at time gaps from a couple years ago there were minutes between teams. But if you take Jumbo out of the picture, second to 11th (us) was about 21 seconds, which is a crazy-small time gap.
Eleventh place might not sound all that good, but if you just look at the time loss I think it wasn’t too bad. Jumbo were exceptional and I think they surprised everyone with how fast they went.
I personally haven’t done too many TTTs and I’ve had quite bad experiences with them in the past. However, this time I think I managed it quite well and was able to do my job. My role finished with around 2 kilometres remaining where there was a big rise and I had to pull one final long turn to the crest of the hill and then peel off.
You can see my power file below from the ITT in Paris-Nice and compare that to the TTT (similar distance) and it shows the difference quite well:
The biggest difference between and ITT and a TTT is how up-and-down the power is in a TTT. Generally in a TTT your power is quite a bit over threshold when you’re in the top two or three riders in the line and then a couple seconds just under threshold until you need to go well over threshold again to get onto the back. Getting back onto the train is definitely the hardest part of the TTT, because if you do just a little too much work when you’re on the front, it can make getting back on super, super hard and it’s very hard to recover from.