“It’s over already?” Most of the riders in the peloton would be thinking that as the rest day ends and they prepare for the final week of this year’s Tour. The racing has been brutal: nervous and hectic through the first week, typically savage through the Pyrenees (which happened through the second week), and windy and wet virtually the whole time. But it’s over already.
For those who have been under the pump, the rest day is a little shining light where they feel like they may be able to recover some of the energy that they have expended.
Those who have fallen will be hoping that the aches and pains come good just a little to allow them the opportunity to maybe do some good work for their team either by getting up the road in a break, protecting their number one man, or being in a position to sneak off the front at an opportune moment.
The coming days are going to be tough for the sprinters and non-climbers in the race. These lads truly have it the toughest of anyone in the peloton: they rarely have an easy day. The big mountain days are super tough for these blokes as they have time cut to worry about. The big sprint days are super tough as they need to drive things along, preparing for the sprint and dealing with the stress of the final few km.
Well, Jules Dean always claimed the sprinters had it tougher… Heh. You can see that the good climbers do have more of an opportunity to recover, particularly if they are not a threat on GC, and so if they have a bad day, can just take it easy climbing the mountains on one day. I can still remember Ryder was having a bad few days back in 2009 — he’d torn himself inside out on the Teams Time Trial, and then had been involved in two crashes in three days.
So as we hit the Pyrenees, Ryder just had to take things easy and sit back in the grupetto rather than stick around up the front for as long as he could. He came onto the bus, and said something like “Man, I didn’t realise how hard they have to go back there. Those guys are going for it.” Jules and Tyler could only shake their heads — they have to descend quickly and drive hard through the valleys to minimise the time they lose on the climbs, and the harder the day, the harder they need to work to avoid time cut.
So for the sprinters, and the workers of the peloton, they are surely now thinking “Is it over already?” with a bit of trepidation in the back of the mind knowing the types of days forthcoming. We the viewing public can’t wait, but the riders are less enthusiastic methinks.