We survive Corsica, now it’s onwards and upwards to Nice and the team time trial in the Tour de France

There will be nerves at the start, but I think those nerves will keep us on our toes and hopefully lead to a great result

The peloton negotiates a climb during stage three from Ajaccio to Calvi in Corsica.

The peloton negotiates a climb during stage three from Ajaccio to Calvi in Corsica.

Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 07:00

Stage 3, Ajaccio - Calvi (145.5km)


The Tour de France is three stages down and now moves to the French mainland in Nice. The time in Corsica came to an end on what was a really hot stage, even warmer than the day before.

With the heat, you really have to keep concentrated on drinking a lot. Keeping hydrated is an important part of performing well, and so I had to make sure I did that throughout the stage.

We got a bit lucky with the course as it there was a headwind – it was a bit easier than we thought it was going to be as a result. I think everybody was quite scared that the stage was technical, really twisty and up and down all day . . . it could have been a hell of a race. But the breakaway went pretty easily early on and that settled things down. While it was still hard with the heat, it could have been a lot worse.

Personally, it was a good day again for me. I slipped out of position a couple of times and lost some energy that way, but coming into the last climb I still felt pretty good.

It was a second category climb inside the final 15 kilometres and I was waiting to see if any attacks went. However, I think everybody was thinking about today’s team time trial and the rest of the race, and it was pretty controlled. A few riders went clear but it was not as decisive as it could have been.

The thing is, with a headwind and a big road in the last 12 kilometre, it was always going to be difficult to stay away. I did consider trying something but I hesitated when it was the right moment to go. Still, I think it was always likely to be a sprint at the end, so I don’t have any regrets.

The break came back and in the battle for the victory, Simon Gerrans won. It is fantastic result for him and his team – the Orica GreenEdge riders have been trying since last year to win a stage at the Tour and went close a few times. Because of that, it is great to see them succeed. I also know Simon pretty well, and I have got a lot of friends in that team too.

Simon is a class act and has taken some very big results in the past, such as the Milan-Sanremo Classic. I am pretty surprised that he beat Peter Sagan, but maybe Sagan is not quite as strong as he was this time last year. Simon lunged at the line and it worked out perfectly for him.

I rolled in as part of the group and am still a second off the yellow jersey, which was held by Jan Bakelants of the RadioShack Leopard team. I felt good on the stage although my muscles are still a bit hard. I’m not sure why, but it hurts a little bit on the bike.

I was always in control, though, and never in trouble . . . it felt easy. I feel really solid, the pedalling feels good and everything is going to plan thus far.

After the stage we had to quickly get ready to fly to Nice. Most of the race took the ferry from Corsica, but the riders had a plane to speed things up. We had some rice and eggs at the finish to get some energy in, and also had some recovery drinks.

The teams all had showers in a big sports hall beside the finish line, then got onto buses which took us to the airport. It was a bit of a new experience but it was very well organised. The big aim for the Corsican stages was to get off the island in one piece.

We managed to do that, being one of a few teams who avoided any problems with injuries. Now we have the team time trial and I hope we will have a good shot at it.

Garmin-Sharp won the same type of stage two years ago and I think we have one of the strongest teams in the race for it. We have practised really well, everybody is smooth and there will be nobody trying to rip each other’s legs off. We have got a lot of confidence in each other.

Of the nine guys on the team, we have four big engines for the time trial. We have Rohan Dennis – he is here on his first Tour, and was pretty much put on the squad specifically for the team time trial. He is an animal. My challenge is to hang on to his wheel in the race! Then we have got Ramunas Navardauskas, Jack Bauer and David Millar.

They will likely be the four strongest, while the rest of us are there to hold it together. Towards the end we can really push on.

In addition to having some very strong riders, we also have the equipment and the best clothing with Cervélo and Castelli – we have got the fastest combination in the peloton. Hopefully we will make it pay off and have the legs to set a fast time that nobody can beat.

An additional incentive is the yellow jersey. Things are so tight that whichever team wins will take the yellow jersey. Because of the way the race route is, they will probably hold it for three or four days after that. So the stakes are pretty high. For sure we will be nervous at the start, but I think those nerves will keep us on our toes and hopefully lead to a great result.

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