Celebrating the win with a beer and a packet of Pringles crisps

The plane to Brittany ended up being the most horrendous flight of my life


When I wrote my last diary I did so in the airport on Sunday evening, just before flying to the north of France for the rest day and then the next section of the race.

We had been due to leave soon after I finished it, but things were more complicated than that and the chartered plane that the Tour organisers put on for all the riders was delayed.

Luckily they opened the bar up and we were able to have a couple of beers, some Pringles and stuff. It was actually quite fun to hang out with the guys from the team and just chill out.

It was funny seeing the other teams looking at us – this team that had ripped them to pieces hours earlier and won the race was sitting there drinking beer and eating crisps!

We were joking amongst ourselves, saying we must be the coolest team in the world, laughing and having a beer while the others were just sitting there.

Once we got on the plane, though, things got uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning on it and it ended up being the most horrendous flight of my life.

It was a real ‘hero to zero’ situation. I thought I was going to pass out at any moment. It must have been at least 45 degrees there, and I literally had sweat dripping down my nose. It was that hot.

For the hour and 15 minute flight, it was just hell . . . real torture.

Eventually we got to Brittany and got to the hotel around about 10.15pm.

The battery on my phone was completely dead so I didn’t get it turned on until around 11.30pm or so. Then it went completely haywire with messages about the stage win.

It has been crazy
It was incredible to see the reaction back home, both with the media and everyone else. We didn’t have a stage on Monday, with the Tour’s first rest day taking place then, and my phone was going completely off the hook . . . it has been crazy.

I’ve also been doing interviews here at the hotel, including one with the prestigious French newspaper L’Equipe. It is a huge paper to have a piece in.

They don’t normally do anything with foreign riders either, so it was something special. Even though I had to do the interview in French, it was a bit of fun.

As it was a rest day and we would be spending two nights plus a day in the hotel, it is important that the organisers put you in a good one. It can be a complete lottery, though. When we pulled up outside late on Sunday evening, it looked awful from the outside. We all thought it was going to be a horrible place. But then we walked through the lobby and exited into this big oasis. It was really impressive, with a nice swimming pool, a very good dining area outside.

It’s funny how the body reacts to racing at the Tour. I woke up at six o’clock in the morning feeling absolutely ravenous; it shows how quickly the metabolism is moving at the moment. Your digestion just works so quickly. After that we had blood tests carried out in the morning in random controls. That’s to be expected, though, especially after the team’s performance yesterday.

The testing is fine, it’s important. I really believe that the sport in general is cleaning up. With our team being the pioneers of anti-doping moment, it is almost like the renaissance of clean cycling. We have been ambassadors since 2008 for clean cycling. For us to be able to race as aggressively as we did on Sunday and to put every other team in trouble, including Sky, just really shows how clean the sport is now.

Anti-doping culture
It really is a new chapter in cycling. I believe that every team has the anti-doping culture and philosophy that we were the pioneers of. As a cycling fan, I find that incredibly exciting.

For those who wonder what the riders do on the Tour de France rest day, it is important to keep moving as otherwise your body stiffens right up from the fatigue of the heavy racing that we have been doing.

The danger with taking the day completely off is that you end up feeling terrible when the race restarts. As a result you can’t stop moving, and we all went for a spin on Monday. A local guy brought us around the lanes there for an hour and a half, then afterwards I had a massage and also saw the team chiropractor.

After that, I had a couple of hours of interviews. We’ll have dinner and then rest up as much as possible for Tuesday’s stage.

The rest day went by far too quickly for my liking, but the change in routine is what is important. It’s a sort of psychological rest from racing. Now we are back into it though with a flat stage from Saint Gildas de Bois here in Brittany to Saint Malo.

It is looking like it is going to be a bit windy, which is something I’m not too keen about, but as I am now the only general classification rider for the team, the other riders will work to keep me safe, to make sure I am fed and watered, and to keep me in the right position.

The goal is to stay out of trouble, to get to Wednesday’s time trial in one piece, and to take it from there.