The team arrived in Monaco earlier last week and there was a buzz around the place already. You could feel it. Everywhere you went people were talking about the Tour; signs and posters were appearing as each day passed; you’d hear the French mulling over their favourites during an espresso in the cafes along the promenade. Tour fever was palpable. And it made for an incredible atmosphere at our team presentation. It was huge compared to anything I’ve done before, with Carlos Sastre and Thor Hushovd fielding questions from journalists.
There were a fair amount of questions for me at the press conference too, and it’s part of the hype that’s been building since the Spring. It all started after I came second in Milan San Remo and it’s been a snow ball ever since. People were asking if I was the favourite for Flanders, and could I beat Tom Boonen, could I beat Stijn Devolder, could I beat Filippo Pozzato? It just went on and on and it was really stating to get to me. I really just wanted to be in my room relaxing instead of doing interviews and I guess it took me a while to adjust to the attention.
I wasn’t too happy with my time in the time trial yesterday. I was so nervous at the start though, my heart was in my throat, but in the end I went too hard on the first little steep section and I couldn’t recover properly for the second part of the time trial.
Today I had to deal with a whole new problem: the heat. It was like an oven out there. Yeah, I was born in Australia but give me a cold rainy day in Belgium and I’d be racing there in a shot. I’d even prefer to race in the snow than the 40 degrees we had to endure today. Staying out of trouble was the aim for today though and everyone on the team did a pretty good job.
I spent time making sure that Carlos and Thor were comfortable in the bunch and then when we reached the final few kilometres my job switched to making sure that Thor was looked after and kept out of any trouble. In the final five kilometres we were both boxed and we got a bit nervous, worried that we wouldn’t get out in time to contest the sprint but we managed to sneak through. There some dangerous riding that led to the crash but in the end Thor took fourth on the stage.
Some of you might ask why I’m working for Thor in the sprints. Well, the sport directors chose the team and they made it pretty clear that we’re here to support Carlos for the yellow jersey and Thor, who is aiming to win the green jersey again. I back that 100 per cent and I’m totally committed to those goals.
Our team has been criticised a bit but I can tell you just how strong we are. We can all help Thor in the sprints and then work for Carlos in the hills. It should be a great Tour and I hope you enjoy the blog.
Catch you later