So, that was the Tour of Yorkshire and what a great, tough event it was, one that finally got the better of me on stage three when I finished at the feed zone and DNF’d.
No bike rider ever likes to do that but, in my case, I had not really recovered properly from the Tour of Croatia a week before and, in a few hours, we’re flying to Los Angeles for a Great Britain Olympic training camp and I’m at the point in the season when I have to look at the bigger picture which, hopefully, is going to be the Olympics.
So while I was disappointed, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the weekend and the event as a whole. Of course, it was a shame about the weather but the crowds were massive, the organisation superb and this is a big-time event that is going to be around for years to come and, as far as I can see, is only going to get bigger and better.
A lot has been said about the organisers and organisation of the Tour and, with ASO in charge, it is only ever going to be of the highest quality. I can’t speak highly enough about the Tour of Yorkshire and, more importantly, the hundreds of thousands of fans who came out over three wet and cold days.
As for the racing? It was a big loss losing Brad and Scot Davies, our main GC contender, on the first day and, I have to say, that was a particularly hard stage. To make matters worse, about 100 metres into the stage, there was a pile-up that I was involved in. We went over a cattle grid, someone slammed on and there was so much water about, nobody could use their brakes properly so you had that classic domino effect. Of course, I was in the middle of some of the photographs that were taken and even made it into a headline in the Daily Mail although, to be honest, all I suffered was an imprint of my chain ring on my side and a couple of other cuts and bruises. It looked far worse than it was … mind you, if a Katusha rider hadn’t kindly been there to give me a soft landing, it might have been a whole lot worse.
On the second day, I’m pleased to say I managed to get up there and was involved in the bunch sprint coming into Doncaster - I was just outside the top 10 in the end. I’d told our DS that because we’d lost Scott, I’d have a little go if I was up there on my own so that’s what I did. It’s not my natural game so it was a lot of fun although it was quite hard, wobbling around in the bunch while all the sprinters were fighting and jumping onto wheels.
On day three, I was pleased for Mark Christian from our Team WIGGINS because he finished well up on such a hard stage. It was a fantastic ride, in fact. He always seemed to be in the right position at key moments and I’d felt he had that ride in him from day one because he had shown great form then.
The only drawback about this race - although one that nobody was to blame for - was the difficulty with TV pictures when the plane they used was grounded on Saturday. That was a particular shame because a great women’s race was held on that day too.
I reckon you can blame the weather for that. And, as is so typical in Britain, a lot of the talk over the weekend was about how tough the conditions were. My attitude towards bad weather is that while those conditions certainly don’t make the job any easier, heading out in the sleet and snow when you’d much rather be warm in bed is your job and those are the days you hope make the difference, going out training. My attitude is as long as it’s safe - no fog, no ice - then I’m out in it.
In terms of racing, I quite like racing in those conditions, although maybe not at the time. It feels a bit more epic, somehow, when you’re out there in terrible conditions. For example, we’ll be talking about the Tour of Normandy that we did last season for years to come. The rain was pouring, the wind was howling and blowing people off their bikes along the French coast and there was so much sand, grit and rubbish being blown about that we had to change our gear cables after every stage. We rode along the D-Day beaches Omaha and Utah and then headed in land and I was almost blown clean off my bike at one stage. Don’t get me wrong. At the time, it’s incredibly miserable but we still talk about that race today. If we’d done it in 25-degree sunshine, I don’t think any of us would remember it.
I guess what I’m saying is, all bike racing is hard, but not all bike racing is epic.
Talking of epic, we’re about to fly out to Big Bear in California now for a training camp at altitude with the GB Olympic endurance riders and, from there, it’s the Tour of California with Team WIGGINS. Hopefully, I have the time and energy to blog from there.