Feeling much better as we prepare for the final push
DANIEL MARTIN TOUR DIARY:SO, WITH yesterday’s rest day behind us, we are moving into the final phase of the Tour. There’s just five stages left, with Pyrenean mountain stages today and tomorrow, and I’m feeling much better than I was. I got out on the bike yesterday to keep loose and did some pretty hard efforts to keep the heart rate up; if you do too little on the rest day, it means you are very sluggish when racing starts again.
Anyway, I felt really good after Monday’s stage. I think people are starting to realise how sick I was, now that I am starting to look and sound healthier again. That is pretty exciting going into the next stages.
Before I talk about that, I wanted to give people an idea of what a typical day is like on the Tour. The race has been pretty consistent in terms of the routine we have; most stages start at 12 o’clock, although some are at 11, and some at one. But it’s the same routine anyway; you wake up around 8.30, 8.45, pack your bags, give your suitcase to the soigneurs to put on the truck to go to the finish, then get breakfast.
I’ve written in the past about the food we eat during the Tour so I won’t go into that again. Suffice to say that you have to get as much energy in as possible – you spend three and a half weeks on this race eating until you feel sick, then eating some more. It is pretty unpleasant at times, and really takes away the pleasure of eating.
When these big races finish, I normally don’t eat . . . I cut right back for a while as I get so tired of it!
After breakfast, you are in the bus by 9.30 or so, and have an hour or hour-and-a-half journey to the start. We’ll have a pre-race drink with some protein and fats during that journey, then when you get there you need to go to sign on – a big list with the riders’ numbers on it, which you sign your name next to, then back to the bus.
Usually there are one or two journalists there who want to talk to you. That’s what makes the Tour different to every other race. Pretty much every day, each rider on the team needs to do an interview before the start.
They call us to the start line, and we roll out of the town and do 10 to 15 kilometres at a neutralised speed. Everyone knows the Tour is very long, but add that extra bit in over the course of three weeks and it works out at an additional 150 to 200 kilometres extra riding that you don’t see in the results.
We do the race, then once its over you get to the bus, have a shower on it, have some rice to get energy back in, then maybe some recovery drinks too. Normally the traffic is chaotic at the finish, and typically we get to the hotel between 7-7.30, or sometimes eight. We need to get a massage then, giving us maybe 30 minutes free time before dinner.
Eating is typically at 9.30 and by the time you finish, it’s an hour later and already time for bed. Trying to sleep on a full stomach is a bit of a challenge, too.
We have support personnel that help us out on the race; we have masseurs, who work on us each evening and help the recovery process. There’s also a chiropractor on the team, who is a kinesiologist as well; he helps with brain networks. I don’t know how that works, it is a bit of a black magic type thing to me, but it’s supposed to help your nervous system and your glands and keep the body ticking along.
There’s also a team doctor who does the rounds to make sure nobody has a problem with the body, digestion or sleeping or even physical injuries. One thing to note is the Garmin-Sharp team has a no-needles policy – it’s very strict about that, in terms of anti-doping, and I’ve never had an injection.
Looking forward, I’m feeling a lot better after my chest infection and my legs are really coming around. My plan on today’s mountain stage is to sit tight and see what happens. I don’t think the break has a good chance of going to the finish, so I think it would be a waste to go in the early move. To try to win the stage, I’ll have to try my chances against the overall favourites today, then try to get in the break on Thursday.
The team also wants to see how I do against the general classification favourites in this third week of the Tour, now that I’m feeling healthy. It would be a really good comparison, although I’ve also saved energy over the past few weeks by not racing full gas every day. It will still show how I compare on a mountain stage at the end of the Tour, which will be important in years to come.
Today’s stage has a descent from the last climb until the finish. Generally the riders are similar in skill, although there are definitely a few guys who take extra risks. But it should be the climb which makes the big difference as to who registers success.