Five months have passed since Rohan Dennis abandoned the Tour de France in mysterious circumstances, climbing off the bike seemingly without cause during stage 12, the day before the race’s major time trial.
We arrived at the first rest day of the Tour de France after ten days of riding, and I think can speak for everyone in the peloton when I say we were really looking forward to it.
The first ten days have been a great experience, but have made for some stressful riding. As I make my way through my first Tour de France, it becomes clear how much of a different experience the Tour is. Everything is a bit more stressful, and the peloton is obviously that little bit faster.
Considering some of the casualties the race has seen so far, I am very happy to make it to the first rest day!
The last two days – Stages 9 and 10 – were probably the hardest of the Tour so far. We faced some very bad weather that made for dangerous riding conditions. At some points the fog was so thick you could barely see 20 metres up the road. Needless to say, it was pretty tough to stay safe.
These conditions were really highlighted by Tiago Machado and Alberto Contador crashing out. In particular, Contador being forced from the race with a broken leg is a massive loss for the GC battle.
Speaking of battles, Stage 10 produced two very distinct ones. There was the GC battle and then the battle between everyone else trying to stay within the time cut. On Stage 10 I made it into the rest day with about 11 minutes to spare.
It is a strange experience to not be racing for a win, but just to be racing to stay in the race. And it’s on days like Stage 10 that you begin wonder why you are racing to stay there!
That being said, the crowds were unbelievable, especially considering the weather was so terrible – and that is always very heartening to see.
On top of that, the support we have received from Australians so far has exceeded all my expectations. There are Aussie flags everywhere and names painted on the road. It really makes our lives as riders so much easier when we see that support.
Making it to the rest day is in itself a strange experience. I have only had a couple of rest days in my career during the Giro. After a little bit of a sleep in you are up for a short training session and some recovery, then before you know it you are through your team meeting, dinner is in your belly and you are tucked in bed thinking… ‘Wow, we start again tomorrow’.
It is comforting though to know that we’ve made it through the longest stretch. From here we have 5 days before the next rest day and then just another 6 days to Paris.
When you look at it like that, it’s a piece of cake!
So looking forward, the goal for Orica-GreenEDGE is to really push for some success in the coming stages. We have had some good opportunities so far, but a few things have gone against us.
Simon Gerrans secured a top 5, which was great. But Andrew Talansky crashing into the back of him there forced him to start his sprint a little far back.
Hopefully for Stages 11 and 12 we can really bind together and pull off a good result for the team.
Losing our captain, Matt Hayman, will make it more of a challenge. He had a few bad days in the mountains and came down quite sick. He is such a good leader on the road, but I am sure he’ll bounce back bigger and stronger.
I am very hopeful though that the coming stages will yield some positive results to write home about.