The final push towards the Tour de France

Mark on learning from the Giro

My next race starts on Thursday, Ster ZLM Toer and I'm hoping to be in the mix. I've been doing a lot of work on my sprinting and climbing lately. There's always a couple of hard stages there for a Gilbert style rider but I am hoping for a couple of sprint chances also.

I won't be doing a lot else in the lead up to the Tour, and I've had a few stints up at altitude along with plenty of training behind the scooter. Off the back of the Giro and then with this week's race I think my preparation for the Tour will be quite solid.

I took a lot from the Giro. Apart from the Tour of Turkey it was the first race where I got some consecutive sprints which allowed me to analyse how I was going and then try and change things the next day. If there was a recurring theme, it was that I was always two or three positions too far back – that really showed that positioning is everything.

It looks like Rabobank will be taking a team for the Tour de France based on supporting Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema and Steven Kruijswijk – throw Luis Leon Sanchez in the mix, along with a few guys to work and then hopefully I'll get a chance to sprint. The team is yet to be confirmed but I'm working towards that goal of being at the start in Liege.

It will make it harder being on my own but on the other hand it is a lot easier – I know what I have to do. There will be less pressure on me to win with the team heading to the Tour with big objectives.

Having a look at where some of the other sprinters are at, Greipel especially looks like he is going really well and is winning plenty of races. Lotto Belisol have got their lead out dialled in. Petacchi is also looking good. There are rumours that Cav won't ride the Tour but I think he'll be there. His support will be limited – probably Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Bernhard Eisel and that's about all. In saying that, it's probably all he needs. If there's a catch, it will be that he won't be used to riding so far back in the bunch, in the Highroad days the team was always patrolling the front, especially on the sprint stages. There is a risk with that of course, the further back you are the more chance of something going wrong. A lot of the work is going to be lumped on teams like Argos Shimano, Orica-Greenedge and Lotto Belisol to bring back any breakaways, because I can't see Sky putting anyone on the front on a sprint stage.

As for the Tour's GC, on paper, it's certainly looking like a two-man battle. We all know that anything can happen but if Cadel Evans and Brad Wiggins can hold themselves upright, it will definitely be those two fighting for victory.


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