It’s been a long time since I last raced 10 consecutive days, and I’m sure I’m not alone in my relief that we get to take today easy. The last “week” at the Tour de France has been extra long, and also full of long stages. Today we have enjoyed reminding each other that we are actually past the halfway point of the Tour in terms of distance already. Add in a time trial, another rest day, and the final stage into Paris and it starts to seem like we’re nearly done…

The Tour has started well, and I mean that in a few ways for a few different reasons. The weather has been great—well, sunny, at least—which helped to calm the peloton’s nerves a bit. Good course design also minimized the stress somewhat, and as a result there have been fewer crashes than expected. The team time trial and mountaintop finish also spread the race out a bit early on, which also had a calming effect. Even the “boring” sprint stages haven’t always been so, as yesterday’s wind certainly livened things up.

Team Sunweb is holding up well—we still have eight strong, healthy riders and our resolve to win a stage has only strengthened after a handful of close calls. Our first big goal was the team time trial, which we performed well in but were blown away by Jumbo-Visma. The tight grouping of teams in the top-10 is a great indicator of how much work teams are putting into the discipline lately. In the past, it seemed that only a few teams would be within a minute of the winners, but now the margins are always quite small.

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Then we started focusing on stages that Michael Matthews could win, which also entailed my own contributions at the front of the bunch a couple of times. Most recently, I was tasked with chasing back the breakaway filled with the heavy-hitters of the breakaway world, most notably Thomas De Gendt. In a cruel twist of the cycling world, my friend and fellow American was also in that breakaway destined for success. His success could have directly benefitted me, as American UCI points affect our nation’s allocation of starters in the World Championships and Olympics. But my job that day was to bring it back. That’s the sport, sometimes.

Monday was an eventful day. A mountain biker jumped the peloton, and shortly thereafter I got in a small dust-up with George Bennett and Yves Lampaert as I tried to attack on the gravel shoulder, and we did a bit of bumping as I ultimately failed to get past them. I thought the aggression was unnecessary, but part of the road-block game.

It’s tough to explain, but I’ll try: the breakaway only gets away when there are more people at the front who don’t want to attack than those who do. On days where it could be a sprint or a chance for the break, the sprinters’ teams can sway the decision by overwhelming the front of the peloton in the neutral section, leaving only a small handful of guys even in a position to attack. With the road blocked, the attacking is done for the day.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Source: Cycling – Cycling News