Confidence high after I cross line in eighth place
TOUR DE FRANCE DIARY: It’s been a hectic start to my first Tour and such a relief that I’ve had a positive beginning
WELL, HERE we go. My first Tour de France got underway on Saturday and I’m pretty happy with things thus far. It was a bit hectic before the prologue time trial in Liège as our bike sponsor, Cervélo, rushed a bike out to me in time for the race; we are using a new model called the P5 this year, which is a real class bike and much faster than the one we had last year. But they’ve just started making it in my size, and so yesterday was the first time I have ridden it.
I’m more of a climber and so it was important to me to do a good prologue. In the past I have had problems with the pacing in those efforts but I did that really well yesterday. I went through the first time check and I was 15 seconds back on the fastest rider; then when I got the finish I was 17 seconds back, so I judged it just right. That put me 55th. It was a really good performance on my part, considering the state of the course and the times of the other climbers. It bodes well for the future and is something I can definitely work more at.
Anyway, it was kind of a strange day. I felt nervous going into it, particularly as it’s my first Tour. I went into this kind of zen, this oblivion . . . was just so focused on my job. Maybe that was also due to nerves – I didn’t want to fall off in front of all these thousands of people on the side of the road and all the millions watching at home!
One peculiar thing was how close myself and Nicolas Roche ended up in the prologue. He’s the other Irish rider in the race and is also my cousin. I was one second and one place ahead of him, out of 198 riders!
If you are wondering what the Tour is like compared to other races, the big thing is the sheer scale of it. It is just enormous. There are so many people, so much media attention. When I was on the start ramp yesterday and I looked down, you can just see all these people peering up at you. There are so many people lining the side of the road, and the tunnel of noise that you ride through is amazing.
Stage one: Today was the first road race stage and we all agreed that it was really nice to just get into the race now. We left the hotel at 9.30am and we have just got back to the hotel at 7.30pm. It is a really long day, but it helps you to focus. Once we are in our normal routine that we do week in and week out, it does help it to become a bit like just another bike race.