Trying to keep focused in some high winds and crashes
Dan Martin Diary – Day 6
Andre Greipel of Germany wins the sixth stage of the Tour de France in Montpellier yesterday. Photograph: Laurent Rebours/AP
As expected, stage six of the Tour was all about staying in the right place, not being caught out, not losing time. It was a pretty nervous, stressful day and it required one hundred per cent concentration for the whole stage.
While it was the flattest day of the race, it also travelled through areas where there could be strong winds, and that posed a risk. The stage started off in a pretty relaxed fashion. That lasted for the first 25 kilometres or so, then it sped right up. It was bizarre in that while the average speed probably doesn’t look incredible, that doesn’t tell the story at all. We did just 30 kilometres in the first hour, but then in the last three hours we covered a total of maybe 150 kilometres. It was really intense.
There was a heck of a lot of wind out there, blowing at 50, 60, 70 kilometres per hour. That can be more dangerous than hills sometimes, as when diagonal lines of riders called echelons form, things can really break apart. In the end that didn’t happen, and I think that reflects the strength, organisation and professionalism of every team in the race.
Keeping things together
There were five or six leadout trains on the front the whole time and I think they kind of cancelled each other out, keeping things together. In addition we were also kind of lucky with the wind. There were a lot of crosswinds, but they were a long way from the finish, so it was not worth trying anything then.
After that, there was a tailwind for the final 30 or 40 kilometres. It was a very, very fast stage and that makes things very nervous.
My Garmin-Sharp team worked really well to keep me well positioned. I was happy with that, and also with the way that I was able to concentrate for the whole stage, remaining focused. In the past, that is something that has been my weak point – I have always had a 15 , 20 minute spell where my concentration has drifted . . . it was like I needed a mental break halfway through the stage. But that wasn’t the case on the roads to Montpellier.
For those of you who followed last year’s Tour, you’ll know that there is always the danger of big crashes, particularly on stages like this. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, although I did see a couple towards the end of the race. One of them took down the sprinter Mark Cavendish, who ended up on the ground when the rider in front of him slid out at a roundabout. I was right there behind him when it happened and that was a hairy moment for me, fortunately I stayed upright. I was very happy to get through it in one piece. Overall, it was a good day.