Abandoning the Tour

Why you never want to leave the grand boucle

Coming into the Tour de France you expect that you're going to crash once or twice - just because it's a numbers game but this year in terms of crashes, I've never seen anything like it.

That was the fifth time I've ridden the Tour and the bunch was extremely nervous. I can't put on a finger on the reason or reasons why we have seen so many crashes but the moment someone would touch the brakes at the front of the bunch, it would ricochet back through and at the end, everyone would be locking up their brakes and crashing.

I said a while back that maybe a few less teams need to be eligible for the Tour and given what's occurred over the last two weeks, it's only cemented that thought for me.

I had four decent crashes, on top of the pile-ups which don't really hurt. One day, I had three in a row and the day before that I'd been involved in the big pile up during the run into the sprint with Cav, Farrar and some other top sprinters.

In the end, I'd ridden four or five days with just one leg really working so I was able to duck and weave and stay out of trouble until I hit the mountains. The first day we hit the mountains, I was in big trouble so I knew whatever was ahead was going to be worse because the next day was starting uphill. My body just never had the chance to recover. You cannot hide for too long in the Tour.

So, there was not much positive for me to take out of this Tour de France. Trust me; you do try to look for any upside. The first sprint day I didn't get a chance to be in the mix because the first few days are generally pretty hard to judge, and I got it wrong.

The Tour is without doubt the hardest race to abandon because it's not something that you want to do. The first few days you try to avoid it but given the amount of attention that is on it, especially in this part of the world, it's impossible to escape it.

I need some more tests just to be doubly sure there's nothing major wrong and I'm hoping everything will be okay. I really think it comes down to the need for a week's rest for all the swelling to go down and recover properly.

While it's hard to find any positives out of my own race, it was great to see Luis León Sánchez get the win in Sunday. It has been a slow start to the Tour for Rabobank so we're pretty lucky that Sánchez is the quality rider that he is. He saved the Tour this year; you can count on him to win a stage each year. He's a great guy and I think the team was really proud to have him there.

All going well, I'll be back for the Eneco Tour, Vattenfall Cyclassics, GP Plouay and a couple other races at the end of the year. Paris-Bruxelles is a good objective as well. I'm not focussed on the Worlds; the course is not to my strengths. Now I just need to try and save my season! There's definitely pressure within the team because Rabobank just hasn't had the season that was expected. There wasn't a huge focus on what I could do in the Tour, but that may change now with what I have coming up.

I am looking forward to getting back on the bike soon and finishing off the season with some wins!


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