The Tour de France for Florian Vachon and his Bretagne - Séché Environnement teammates has been a learning experience in many ways but for the 29-year-old it is also the first time he has ridden a race over nine days in length in his seven year career.
"I learnt a lot about myself and my capacities to recuperate," Vachon explained. "At the start, as we are a team of newcomers, we went into the unknown. I had only taken part in one-week races like Paris-Nice or the Dauphine, in which we were lucky to be invited."
The Frenchman who has six professional victories to name again tried again on stage 16 but lost contact with the break on the HC rated Port de Balès climb.
"I struggled in the first week because you must learn to keep your place in the Tour peloton but I was much more comfortable in the second week," Vachon said. "And then I proved by going in a break in stage 16 that I was also there in the third week. It was my goal to go into an "easy" break and also into a complicated one, with a chance to go all the way."
Having been granted a wildcard invitation to the race, Vachon explained that from the Grand Départ in Leeds, the team's objectives for the race were to be protagonist for three weeks.
"I think we replied on the bike to criticism that we did not have our place on the Tour," he added. "If everything goes well until tomorrow, there will be nine of us in Paris.
"When you're a debutant and you're neither a great sprinter or a climber, you have no other choice but to try to go into break and hope to make it to Paris. It's obviously my number one goal."