Here I am, in Spain, back in my flat in Valencia, watching on television as my first Tour de France continues without me.
Physically, I'm pretty banged up. My left leg hurts from the hip to the ankle, and my right arm hurts from the wrist to the elbow. The arm is what's bothering me the most, actually, and making it difficult to sleep. I've still got a bit of pain in my neck, because I did take some impact on my head, but fortunately I don't have any sort of concussion or head injury.
Psychologically, I'm actually doing pretty good. I've been able to turn the page quickly and I'm now looking ahead, focusing on my recovery and getting motivated for the rest of the season.
Back in the moment, though, it was a different story. I think everyone saw me crying. They were tears of anguish. I couldn't quite believe that my Tour de France had ended so suddenly, with such bad luck. At first, I didn't want to abandon. When I crashed for the first time, the directors could see it was serious, and they were asking me 'do you want to carry on? Maybe it's best to stop'. But I said 'no, I continue'.
Then I had the second crash. I was going super fast into a roundabout, the surface was slippy, my wrist was so blocked that I couldn't grab the front brake, and my bike just slid out from underneath me. I got back on again, but it was different this time. I was able to analyse the situation a lot more clearly. I was in a lot of pain, and the just thought of four more hours of that pain was enough. Then there was the clear risk of the same thing happening again and again, so it became quite an easy call to make, even if it was still tough to accept. I'd worked so hard for this, and everyone dreams of riding into Paris, so I guess that's what was going through my head when the tears came.
I quickly came around, though. I went to hospital for check-ups and whilst I was there I went over everything in my head. I looked back at the season and the results I've had, the things I've learned, and I left feeling happy and positive. I hope it's something that I can take heart and gain strength from.
I want to make clear that I hold no grudge against Bob Jungels for what happened. For me, yes, the movement he made was a little abrupt, but at the end of the day the crash was unintentional. Luck wasn't with me that day, and I was sort of in the wrong place at the wrong time. I looked back, then a split-second later he looked back. I moved out, then a split-second later he moved out. Somehow, we didn't catch each other. He didn't know I was alongside him, but there I was. It was unintentional and, the way I see it, neither him nor I are to blame. It's one of those things that can happen in racing.
Bob sent me a message that evening, saying sorry for what happened and the movement he made. I think he spent the whole day thinking he'd caused me to crash and that he was the reason I was out of the Tour, but he needn't have. I told him not to worry, that these things happen, and to have a good rest of the Tour. In any case, I appreciated his message.
After leaving hospital, I went back to the hotel, packed my bags, and found a flight. I'd technically left the team bubble so I ate my dinner alone in my room, without seeing my teammates, and I went home the next day. It sounds sad but it was no big tragedy. A rider leaving a race happens all the time, and as a professional you learn to take the emotion out of it. You've got your own problems to take care of, and you're no use to the team if you can't ride your bike, so the only thing you can do is leave them to get on with it.
What was strange was emerging into the outside world. Everyone's talking about bubbles, but it really is one. I'd been away from home and with more or less the same group since the Dauphine, so for more than a month. As you know, we have everything taken care of for us, so going back to the real world – doing your food shop and reacquainting yourself with the kitchen – was a shock to the system. Still, I've enjoyed cheering the boys on from the sofa.
I don't quite know what comes next for me. At the moment, I'm just resting up and focusing on my recovery. There's not much I can do – I just have to cross my fingers. I've not ridden my bike yet but I will do so at the weekend, and that's when things will become a little clearer. The World Championships are obviously on my radar but it will totally depend on how the body reacts. If I don't feel good, I'll have to say no to the national team, but if I feel good, I'll say yes in an instant. I'm optimistic, but the body will decide in the coming days.
Beyond that, I won't be going to the Vuelta. I'm still very young and although I haven't finished the Tour, it's not the time to do two Grand Tours in one season. I am looking forward to discovering the Ardennes Classics – races I hope to do well at during my career.
So my Tour de France blog doesn't have quite the final chapter I'd envisaged, but I'm still only 23, and I've got time on my side. I said back at the start that this was a dream come true, and that's no less the case. One Tour has ended, but there'll be more to come.
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