In the end I'll always have Paris
What’s also significant is that I didn’t have much preparation before the Tour on the time trial bike. I did in May, but in June I was suffering with shoulder problems after my crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné, and couldn’t sit in the time trial position afterwards.
We reached Paris yesterday and it was a great feeling, racing up and down the Champs Elysees. When I was younger I saw the end of the Tour once or twice and the atmosphere was amazing. It made it very special to be here as a rider, riding along the streets in front of the fans as someone who had finished the race.
Looking at the Tour as a whole, I’m pretty encouraged by my debut. After the first two weeks I was starting to think that maybe I couldn’t do this. But I’d a chest infection and I didn’t realise how much it was taking away from my performance. I started to get healthy and the race got much more comfortable. I was riding well in the Pyrenees, and could race as I liked; if I wanted to go in the breakaway, I was in the breakaway. I was starting to feel good and the fact I could do that in the third week of the race is really promising.
I lost time waiting for team-mates who crashed and, when I was sick, also sat up on a few days to save energy. I finished 35th overall out of 153 finishers, but riding well in the last week made myself and the team really start considering going for general classification next year. It gives me confidence and I know that I can ride top ten overall in the Tour.
After the end of the race, we had a nice dinner in a restaurant with VIP guests in Paris, with my mum and dad also there. In other years some of the teams would go to a club and let the hair down, but with the Olympics people are more serious. I’m off to London today and will keep focused for the Olympic road race.
Obviously it’s important to get things right after a race as tough as the Tour; I’ll have to balance rest with training. I’ll have to ride every day. You have to keep the body moving and do some hard rides this week, as otherwise the body will just seize up.
The Olympics is a major target, particularly as I felt good on some of the hilly stages in the Tour, and finished the race feeling pretty good. I’ll have to wait until after the Games to relax . . .