Dan Martin Diary – Stage 10: Back in the saddle and ready for the race of truth

Despite the crosswind and late crash , the first day back racing after my stage win swas pretty relaxing

A hairdresser combs a customer’s hair in a hairdressing salon as the peleton makes its way through the tenth stage of the centenary Tour de France from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

A hairdresser combs a customer’s hair in a hairdressing salon as the peleton makes its way through the tenth stage of the centenary Tour de France from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 11:00

With the rest day on Monday, yesterday was the first day of racing since I won the stage at the weekend. It was a chance to talk to a lot of people and get some congratulations from them, which was nice. I enjoyed the moment. I also got presented with a plaque by Eurosport, a cutout of the profile from Sunday. That was pretty cool.

It was a relatively relaxing day, actually. It is incredible how everybody seems to have chilled out since the last crosswind day. Since the mountains, everybody has been put in their place and the race has settled down. Perhaps people were a bit sleepy as well after the rest day!

That said, it wasn’t a particularly easy stage as we had a headwind/crosswind all day. It wasn’t that hard, it was just annoying. There was that nagging wind every time we came out of a small village and the roads opened up, and this would cause the bunch to line right out.

Obviously it got a bit hectic towards the finale of the stage. Everybody knew it was going to be crosswind when it went along the beach, it was a dangerous moment. My team-mate David Millar rode on the front for me for 14 kms, riding really strongly into the wind and shielding me from it.

He was incredible, really strong. It’s better to be there as anything can happen in the back. If a crash happens with 15 or 20 kms to the finish line, it could block the road and you could lose a lot of time. So while it was more difficult in terms of effort to be riding at the front on his wheel, it was stress free. I didn’t have to fight for position, I didn’t have any danger at all.

Generally the team is working really well at the moment. The atmosphere is great now, we are all having a lot of fun. The pressure is completely gone after I got the stage win and I think we are just going to enjoy racing our bikes. It makes a difference.

Bit of a scuffle
There was a big crash at the end of the stage with the Tom Veelers and Mark Cavendish tangling. Veelers got brought down in the clash. I was behind them and saw it happening, but had time to slow down; there was no real danger to me, and no panic as we would all be given the same time if we were delayed as the crash happened in the final three kilometres.

There was a lot of debate afterwards as to who was at fault but while I did see what looked like a bit of a scuffle, it was hard to tell exactly what happened. Anyway, I hope Veelers is okay.

Next up for us is the time trial. I will do my best in it – it is only over 30 kms, so I don’t think the gaps are going to be that huge at all. I will probably lose a bit of time to Chris Froome as he is super strong in a time trial, but as regards the other guys, I will hopefully be there or thereabouts.

The aim is to ride as best as I can and try to stay as high as possible in the general classification. Hopefully that will keep me in contention for a possible podium place, although I am still taking things day by day. The general classification is in the back of my mind now, but there is still a heck of a lot of racing to go. We have got five mountain stages next week, so there is a lot that can happen.

Anyway, in order to ride as well as possible in the time trial, I will do a couple of things beforehand. As there are 190 riders, the first guy will be off about 10.30 or so. Before then, I will get up and travel 45 minutes to an hour in the team car to get to the course, arriving about 9.30. I’ll ride it in order to get an idea of the route, it’s important to do that.

Relax in hotel
As I’m eighth in the general classification, I won’t be off until about 4.30 or so. It is going to be a long old day, and I’ll have a few hours to relax in the hotel before my effort. I’ll probably watch the first guys on the TV.

In order to be ready to go flat out from the start of the time trial, I’ll use the bike trainers we have to warm up beforehand. With a time trial like tomorrow’s, I’ll probably start on it about 40 minutes before, then keep going until 15 minutes before the start. You just spin the legs up, get the heart-rate up so you are ready.

We have got the fastest bikes in the world on our team, so it is the matter of choosing the right equipment and then giving it everything.

Hopefully there will be good support along the roadside. It was incredible how many Irish flags I saw on Tuesday – the numbers were so high that I was starting to wonder if some French people have adopted me too! As I have been speaking French in the press conferences, they have taken to me.

People also came up to me at the start and the finish, looking for autographs and to have a word. It is just fantastic to have the support, really nice.