By Shane Stokes in Nantes, France
Magnus Backstedt (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) has had a tough run-up to the Tour de France, experiencing some sickness and thus being at a lower level of form than he would have wished to have been. The former Paris-Roubaix winner's plan is to hold back until after the stage four time trial, then start hunting for a stage victory on the flatter stages between there and Paris.
"I have been having a bit of a rough start, coming off the Giro and then being sick and everything," the big Swede told Cyclingnews. "I have been told to take it easy in the beginning here, but I will start to open it up a little more after the time trial. So far it has just been a case of trying to find my legs, find the rhythm a bit. Just ease myself into it."
Backstedt convoluted preparation was due to an internal problem. "I got a stomach illness in the Giro and then found out that I had elevated PH levels - basically my body was just full of acid and got really inflamed," he said. "I had to go on a pretty strict diet and try to sort myself out, getting my acid levels back down.
"It has taken quite a lot out of me to get to this point but I feel okay now," he added. "My legs are starting to respond and get better and better every day. I will be okay."
Indeed Backstedt did show signs of better form on Stage 3, finishing one place behind Slipstream Chipotle team-mate David Millar in 26th. They were part of the main bunch of riders which came in 2'03" behind the winner Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis).
From Wednesday onwards, the push for a result will commence. "As soon as we are over and done with in the time trial tomorrow, I will start looking at a few stages," said Backstedt. "I will see if I can get in some breakaways and maybe win a stage at some point.
"The mood in the team is great," he added. "The guys are all going well and with a new sponsor as well, life is good."