Blazing saddle sores

Heinrich waves goodbye to the Pyrenees and welcomes the first rest day

Whoever said cycling is good for the environment needs to take a better look at the reality because after yesterday's stage I, along with another 170-odd tired cyclists, hopped on a plane and flew all of 30 minutes to travel to Limoges. I'll admit there was little complaining from me after three hard days in the mountains and a full rest day to look forward to. And to be fair, I think I've earned the right to fly once or twice considering how many kilometres I spend on the bike.

A rest day in the Tour is always a strange experience. For the past week we've been going through the same protocol and routine on a daily basis. Shower, breakfast, put on kit, travel to the start, sign on, race, eat, drink, race, finish etc., etc. but when it comes to a rest day you break free from the cocoon that is the Tour and have a chance to catch your breath. It may be the most amazing race in the world but it's also one that takes over your entire existence. You live, breath and race the Tour for three weeks. Of course, so many fans do the same but from their office desks and tv screens.

So I'll be taking it easy today and kicking back. Not because I want to but because I have a rather nasty saddle sore. It's been giving me problems for a few days and I've been to see the physiotherapist about it. Anyone who's had the misfortune of having such an injury will know what I'm talking about when I say how painful it is. Not only that, but you find yourself riding out of position in order to escape the pain but that can be a problem in itself as it can lead to back and knee problems. So I'll literally be giving my arse a rest tomorrow.

But back to the racing, and the last few days have been action-packed to say the least. I didn't get the chance to see Thor win his stage. I went down with around 35 kilometres to go on a slippery roundabout. I had to work hard just to get back on and then with 10 kilometres remaining the same thing happened again, with my front wheel going out from underneath me.

My misfortunes aside, it was fantastic win for Thor and the team. He'd picked out that stage months ago, and everyone knew that it was going to be between him and Oscar Freire. That night we celebrated with the customary glass of champagne and the whole team was there, from managers, directors and physios. Everyone had a smile from ear-to-ear. To be honest, it took a little bit of pressure off the team. We'd tried to go for the win in prior stages but in nearly every opportunity we'd suffered through either crashes or bad luck. It was nice to turn things around.

Thor has been incredible in the last few days. Not many sprinters, if any, could attack and get in a group on a mountain stage and then win sprint points - it just shows what a class rider he really is. It looks like it might be a straight fight between him and Cavendish for the points jersey now. Okay, I'm biased but I'll put Thor down as my favourite. The guy has more experience and he knows his level while I don't think Cav is the type of rider to try and get in a break or take points on a mountain stage. I don't know where to put him. Great sprinter that he is I have to go with Thor. Experience counts.

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