‘I gave everything I had but my legs were just really bad’

Chris Froome  retained his yellow jersey after stage 17 of the 2013 Tour de France. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Chris Froome retained his yellow jersey after stage 17 of the 2013 Tour de France. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images


I stayed in the top ten after the time trial yesterday, but have mixed feelings about it. Remaining there happened as a result of the French rider Jean Christophe Peraud crashing out; he had fractured his collarbone while riding the course before the stage, was able to continue, but then fell again near the end and did bigger damage to it.

It meant he was unable to continue in the race.

Peraud would have probably been ahead of me in the overall standings otherwise, but because he is out of the race, it means I am tenth and not 11th. That’s good for me, but it is very unfortunate for him. He is a really nice guy and it was horrible to see him crash out.

I am pretty disappointed with my performance. I gave everything I had but my legs were just really bad and I was 32nd in the time trial, three minutes and 22 seconds behind the winner Chris Froome.

Analysing it afterwards, perhaps I’ve turned myself into too much of an endurance athlete. I seem to be lacking in these sort of time trials, in these relatively short explosive efforts. I think I would have won it if everybody had to ride a stage for five hours before doing the time trial! It is a different type of effort.

I’ve obviously worked towards building my endurance and that was useful for me when I won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Classic earlier this year. I also won the hardest stage of the Tour as well. I am obviously good when everybody else is tired, I seem to get less fatigued than everybody else. But I am going to have to adapt to the shorter efforts too for the future, in terms of the training I am doing.

I don’t think it is necessarily time trial technique, it is more a case of just physically being able to go hard over a relatively short distance. I rode as hard as I could throughout the stage yet I lost a load of time again. That was disappointing, particularly on a course that I should have gone well on.

There is a chance I didn’t warm up properly. It’s hard to judge after 17 days of racing; it’s a balancing act as you are so fatigued. You need to be ready to go hard right away, but you don’t want to make yourself tired going into the stage.

It’s hard to get things exactly right, but I definitely was going better towards the end of the time trial. In the last 12 kilometres, I think I was faster than the world champion Tony Martin. I had something like the 15th best time over that particular part of the course. I only lost 28 seconds to Froome in the last section, and he was by far the fastest there, 15 seconds faster than the next fastest rider.

Some riders actually changed their bikes in that section of the race.

Trial machine
Chris Froome, for example, changed bikes and got onto his normal time trial machine. I don’t think that was an issue for me – the bike my Garmin-Sharp team had set up for me was perfect.

I was using the Cervélo S5 bike, which aerodynamically is very close to the P5 time trial machine that we normally use. And don’t forget that bike changes probably cost you 20 or 25 seconds, in terms of slowing down, stopping, getting a new bike, and then getting going again.

I believe it was definitely a good option to be able to use the S5 and we were lucky to have that choice.

Next up is the Alpe d’Huez stage. It’s one of the most famous climbs in the history of the Tour and will be great to race on. I have never competed on it, and last rode it when I was 14. It is a climb that I have seen many times on television and so it is going to be incredible to finally be up there, racing on those roads. I am particularly looking forward to Irish Corner ten; the corners count down as the summit gets closer, and loads of Irish fans have decided to come to the race this year, to take over that section and to cheer myself and Nicolas Roche on.

When I get to corner eleven I am going to be thinking ‘what is coming up next?’ It is going to be great the first time up with the supporters, and the second time up they will definitely be going even more crazy. It is definitely going to give me something to think about during the climb!

One ascent
Between the two ascents of the climb is a very dangerous descent off the Col de Sarenne. There was some talk that the race organisers might scrap the descent if it is raining, limiting the race to just one ascent of Alpe d’Huez in order to play it safe. However they later said that the two climbs and the descent will remain.

It is a pretty brave move by the organisers as everybody has commented that the downhill is extremely dangerous. God forbid, but if somebody does get hurt, it is going to be an interesting situation . . .

I think it would be a very difficult decision to make to change it. . . But, that said, I believe it is a situation that the riders shouldn’t really be in, knowing the condition of the road on the downhill, the drops off the edges and how dangerous it could be. Fingers crossed that everyone stays safe, and we have a good day’s racing.