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Entering the Champs d’Elysee on Sunday made me realise that this wasn’t just another bike race. The first time when we entered the circuit we passed by the Louvre and on the circuit at about 2.5km to go rode past the finish line up the hill to the Arc de Triomphe with the afternoon sun behind it, that was special. Chatting with a couple of guys during the laps, we all said ‘This is pretty cool, hey?’. The significance of that moment is something I won’t forget.
It was hard to organise a proper celebration in Paris after the final stage because we didn’t finish racing until around 9:30pm. By the time we’d taken the photos, done interviews, and then got to the bus after trying to navigate through the chaos of people it was about 10:45-11pm when we actually arrived to the hotel. The team booked a rooftop bar in a hotel across the road with some drinks, snacks and a nice relaxing area to hang out and talk. We had an amazing view down to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. There were a couple speeches, but nothing formal and by about 1:30am the hotel was about ready to kick us out. Some guys kick onto the Tour’s organised after-party, some just sat in the lobby talking until the early morning, and the others slowly headed off on their way.
Now that I’ve had a couple of days to digest and reflect on my first Tour de France experience, I’d say that it’s special but not a whole lot different to any other Grand Tour. It’s always a relief to finish a Grand Tour healthy and happy, and I’m both which is nice. I would say the experience of my first Giro d’Italia was more of an experience, but maybe it’s also because I’ve watched the Tour so many times that maybe I’ve lived the experience of the Tour somewhat through the television!
Once back home in Andorra and having collected my dog from the dog-sitter, I was finally able to take a couple deep breaths and let a massive sense of relief and normality flow through me. Walking back into my calming place and just being able to do whatever, whenever is an amazing feeling.
It’s a bit surreal when I think about the way we’ve lived our lives over the past month. We had our washing, cooking, cleaning, and everything else done for us outside of riding our bikes.
It is a little weird, but also refreshing to get back to normal life and find a routine again. I sometimes find it a touch overwhelming being part of the Tour de France show and having people always wanting something like a photo or an interview. I enjoy a quiet life and having nobody recognise me. Andorra is a great place for this and coming into the cafe on the first day home and helping with washing dishes (just a bit) and just being normal is a refreshing change after the chaos.
As for some time off to recover, I took Monday off the bike, mainly because its a travel day back home. By Tuesday I was back riding again. For most riders it depends on their race program. If you have a long time until you race again you can take more days off, but taking more than a couple days off can make it really hard to get the body going again, it kinda just shuts down into full recovery mode. So for me, I will do 1-2hrs super easy for 2 days, maybe 3hrs for 2 days and then take 2 days off the bike before starting normal training again. I will head to the beach for a couple days and enjoy some relaxing there, but I will still take my bike and ride a little each day.
I feel pretty good, both mentally and physically. It could also be due to the fact that the last two stages were shortened and my role in the race changed after Adam wasn’t riding for GC anymore. I would say I’m much fresher than I was after the Giro last year. That Giro really took it out of me, all the extra transfers and sometimes bad weather really adds to the stress.
Highs and Lows
In terms of my high points of the race, each stage win we had was amazing and something special. Also, just the atmosphere we had in the team the whole race was incredible and something I think is really hard to find anywhere else. So more or less the whole tour experience was a high point.
In general, a low point was that I lacked great legs for the entire race. I was good at Dauphine, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t that good during the Tour and couldn’t really show myself or help the team. I was really trying, and going into the race I thought that I had done everything right and was at a good level, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. I did almost take an off-season break after my knee injury in April, which definitely didn’t help, but I was hoping to get more out of myself.
It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong with my performance, but I will be working with the doctors and coaches during the next couple days to see if there was anything leading up to the race and during that race that maybe we could have done better. There are a couple things I may have done differently after the Dauphine and perhaps taking more into consideration after my knee injury and the time I had off.
A lot of riders go and race the post-Tour crits straight after the Tour, but I don’t really know much about that scene. It’s not really talked about in our team either. I think one or two riders are doing them from our team, but it’s not something I thought about until someone mentioned it with about five days to go. I just wanted to go home at that point!
Keeping myself motivated for the next block of training and racing is all about setting goals. I enjoy looking ahead and planning for the next phase of the season.
At the moment I don’t know what my next race will be. We will decide with the team if we look at the Tour of Spain or a couple week-long tours. I would really like to make the selection for World Championships. After that, there are a couple of Italian one-day races at the end of September and October, and then the season is over.
I would really like to thank all the readers, fans and people that came up to me during the Tour to say hello and yell my name from the side of the road. If you comment below and have some more questions I will check them in the next couple days and try and reply.