In the end I'll always have Paris
TOUR DIARY:It was a childhood dream to race down the Champs Elysees but now it’s on to the Olympic Games
First Tour done and dusted. Three weeks and two days after the race started in Liège, I reached Paris yesterday and completed the first Tour de France of my career. There were tough times, some illness, good performances and an encouraging ride at the end which has motivated me for next year’s race.
We had the time trial on Saturday and I was pretty happy with how that turned out. The result was a surprise to me as I actually felt terrible. We rode a bit of the course in the morning and saw that it would be 53.5 kilometres kilometres of staying in the tuck position, battling into a headwind or cross/headwind the whole way. At this point of the Tour, after three weeks of racing, your body tends to turn into a diesel so you can’t go that hard. However, you don’t really blow up, as such.
The course was long and pretty straight and it would be pretty horrible to just watch the check boards and see them counting down, five kilometres at a time. So I wore a heart rate monitor, giving me something to concentrate on. During the warm-up on the trainer I got my heart rate up to just 155 maximum; normally my maximum is 195, so that plus the fact that I felt terrible made me think it was going to be really tough out there.
Due to the fatigue of the Tour, my maximum heart rate during the test was just 163. Normally I’d time trial at 175, 180 heart rate but I was sitting at 160 heart rate and just plodding way, grinding away at the gears and having no power left in my body. But things worked out better than I thought.
I started off pretty slowly, then built up speed relative to others later in the race. At the second time check I was 52nd or something, yet at the finish line I was 32nd. In the first 30 kilometres I lost three minutes thirty to Brad Wiggins, then in the last 24 km I only lost a minute twenty. I think that shows I paced it pretty well, as many other riders faded.
I’m a climber and finishing 32nd in such a long time trial was encouraging. I need to tweak my position a bit more and that will make me faster; my Cervelo P5 is a brand new bike and it is still very much in the development stage. We were lacking a piece to get the handlebars low enough; I was sitting a couple of centimetres too high, and if we had the aerodynamics right I would have been faster.