Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) successfully defended his yellow jersey on day two of the Tour de France, and admitted later that the searing heat had proved a bigger challenge than the four-man break that dominated the stage, before being reeled in with 10km remaining.
"It was fast at the start, fast up the first climb, and fast all day," said the Swiss, a commanding winner of Saturday’s stage one time trial. "There was great work from my team, who were focused on [defending] yellow. The heat hurt a lot, but it hurt all the other riders, too.
"With 40km to go I asked Bjarne [Riis] how many degrees it was, and I was told forty. I knew it was hot, but I didn’t know it was that hot. I focused on drinking, drinks at normal temperature, then with 30 or 40km to go I started pouring water over my head. I have extra kilograms [over a lot of the other riders] so that makes things much tougher."
The crash towards the finish didn’t distract him, Cancellara said. "It’s normal, it happens in any race, especially in the heat," he said. "That’s when riders are not as focused as they could be, but I was never in a risky situation."