For Matthew Busche, the Tour de France was worth the wait. The Trek Factory Racing rider rode his first Grand Tour in 2011, the Vuelta a España, and again rode the Spanish three-week race in 2013 but since turning pro in 2009, he had never managed to make it to France in July.
"It was a mental and physical battle," said Busche, who finished his first Tour in 98th place, nearly three hours and 42 minutes behind the overall winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Busche was active in making the break on stage 2 to Sheffield and since the Yorkshire Grand Départ, the 29-year-old suffered through the cold, the rain, the stress and several crashes with the arrival in Paris keeping him going.
"Even without the weather or the crashes, the level of racing is incredible. I see why it's the greatest race in the world," said the Wisconsin native.
Trek's GC hopes were dented when 2010 winner Andy Schleck crashed out on stage 3, although as Busche explained, the team still managed to place a rider within the top 10 but it wasn't quite the level of success they were hoping for.
"We didn't quite achieve what we were looking for, which was a stage win," he said. "But at the same time we were aiming at a top-10 finish and we have Haimar Zubeldia who made it in the top 10 for the fifth time. Chapeau to him."
Busche will head back to America and prepare for the Tour of Utah having been impressed by the crowds and what the best race the world can offer a cyclist.
"Sometimes you wonder why you should come back through all this stress again, but then with time, you forget and it's the Tour," he said. "It's the greatest race in the world."