By Anthony Tan in Verbier
In today's eighth stage of the Tour de Suisse, La Française des Jeux team leader Bradley McGee kept his hopes of a high overall finish alive. Finishing in 12th position, 1'21 behind stage winner Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) and in the company of race leader Michael Rogers (Quick.Step) and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), who occupy the two places above him on the overall classification, the 29 year-old retains his third spot overall going into tomorrow's final stage in Ulrichen.
When Cyclingnews caught up with him at the finish line in Verbier, the Sydneysider was satisfied with his efforts, but was understandably in plenty of pain.
"Oh, you don't know what to expect, although with a finish like that, you expect a lot of pain - that's one thing - and we got that," he said when asked whether the stage met his expectations. "They put the squeeze on early; some guys tried to go with it, then got dropped, and it came back. I was just confident enough to let it go a little bit and thought it would come back in the last few k's.
"Though I was in the hurt bag," admitted McGee.
"I was getting dropped, coming back on... but I was still thinking if it came back and it was flat at the finish, I would have a go in the sprint", he said with a chuckle, almost having trouble comprehending what he was saying. "So something must be going alright."
So far, McGee has enjoyed a brilliant tour to date, finishing 15 seconds off Ullrich in last Sunday's time trial and winning the following day's stage in St. Anton. McGee also added his change of training program to accommodate his transformation to a stage race rider has seen him recover much better each day.
"I've been pulling up really good in the mornings. Yesterday [Stage 7], the squeeze was on early - 17 guys up the road and we had no one in it, but it had [Patrick] Sinkewitz and Giuseppe [Guerini], so I had to go across by myself. And that was straight out of the block, so it shows I'm pulling up pretty good. Still hurts, though... "
Going into today's inevitably decisive stage, half of which is uphill, there's still plenty more hurting left, and it appears he isn't thinking about victory just yet. "You can only do what you can do. Again, a lot of climbing; you have your limits - you can only do what you can do," he repeated.