On the verge of breaking

From a rider’s perspective, in the Tour de France’s first two weeks everyone has fresh legs and has the ability to fight for position in the bunch. But now, in the third week, whether you like it or not, you just default to your current physical level. In the first week accelerating out of corners when you go through small towns and villages was easy, but now it’s almost impossible to contemplate.

Today we came off the descent from Soulor and went through a town with a sharp right hand turn and I nearly broke. It’s funny, on the climbs you also find yourself defaulting in a similar way. For the last few days I’ve been dropped on the climb with the same group of guys.

But now the mountains are over and I think 99 percent of the bunch is happy to see the end of them.

Tomorrow will be a big day for us with the possibility of a sprint. We will work pretty hard at that. I presume Lampre will do the same as they have the same goals and they’re still chasing the green jersey.

The time trial on Saturday will be interesting. Time trials in the third week of a Grand Tour are completely different to any other time trials. It doesn’t matter if you’re a specialist or not. The favourite for the TT at this point just comes down to whether you’ve still got the energy.

When I was UCI World Time Trial Champion a few years back I was always considered one of the favourites for the time trials in the Tour, but I remember vividly the 2005 time trial where I almost struggled to finish it. So Saturday will come down to the general classification riders who are fighting for overall and of course time trial specialists who still have something left. Everyone else will just be worried about getting to the finish.

Finally, I’m pretty happy that race organiser ASO decided to make the final stage shorter this year. It’s only 102km or so, which is great. The final stage is more of a traditional parade anyway until you reach the Champs-Élysées, so it doesn’t really matter what happens before you reach the circuits.

The end result is likely to be the same anyway. When we hit the circuits, the race really starts and it will be pretty exciting as usual.

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