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Brian Canty

Chapter 3 Girona Eat Sleep Cycle

CHPT3 x Eat Sleep Cycle

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Partnerships are a major part of what we do at Eat Sleep Cycle and from the day we opened the doors of our first shop we’ve been linking arms and joining forces with some of the world’s best brands.

Cycling is booming and new brands appear every month. There’s no shortage of them and as retailers and distributors we’re spoilt for choice.

To use a pro cycling analogy, consider a World Tour manager looking for riders: there is an ocean of talent but you don’t pick the ones you want based solely on talent. You consider the package. You consider what that rider will do for you.

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team were asked by journalists in late 2015, ´why did you pick Lawson Craddock for your team next year´? I’m sure those journalists got their answer in July this year because his was the story of the Tour de France.

He put the spotlight on EF Education First-Drapac in a way 21 stage wins couldn’t have.

Back to branding and though we are spoilt for choice, how on earth do we decide who to pick or who to have in our store?

People ask us, why Ridley bikes? Why MAAP? Why Tactic? Why Rocacorba? Why Oakley? Why Factor?

The answer, broadly, goes like, “we want to work with brands who want to work with us”.

Brands who want to work with us obviously believe in us or else they wouldn’t bother. We say ´yes´ to those who share our Eat Sleep Cycle values of attitude, belief and commitment.

So back to bike racing and imagine we’re in a 200-rider peloton with everyone trying to get to the front for exposure.

The sport – and marketing – is built on that, remember. Get yourself seen and use others to leverage that.

EF Education First-Drapac made the least money from the Tour de France in prize-money this year. They made €14,420. Team Sky, in comparison, made €726,630.

Aside from naming the winner, most will struggle to say who finished second and third.

But I bet they all know who finished last? Yes, Craddock.

So anyway, we’re in the bike race, Eat Sleep Cycle, jostling with the others to show what we can do.

We’re relatively new to this game, so we’re up there sussing out who’s who, who’s doing what.

We feel so good and fresh that we want to get away, get up the road and show ourselves off to the world. But we need help to get away.

We’re looking for help, someone who’ll work with us and to get in the breakaway. We need others like us with attitude, commitment and belief. Those who believe in the power of working together.

When Ridley came to us last year with a genuine love for what we do, it was a no-brainer that we would work with them. When the guys from MAAP flew to Girona from Australia to get in our store, it made the decision very easy as well.

The same goes for the others. And tonight that list will grow a little longer when we hang CHPT3 on our rails and hold the official launch of their clothing in our store.

They’re keen to get into the break and we’re keen to have them work with us.

And here’s why. The CHPT3 brand is Girona. It’s cool, it’s quirky, it’s classy and it works for us.

Girona doesn’t work for everyone and CHPT3 definitely doesn’t work for everyone but it works for us and those who share our values.

It’s a city you’ll especially love if you love cycling, but you might get bored of it after a while. The same applies for CHPT3. You need to feel it.

Take the Backyard Base Layer with very subtle writings on it like TDM, SP and MMYA… Tossa de Mar, Santa Pelaia, Madremanya. Anyone who comes to Girona will fall for these places like we have. Another person might say it’s daft. That’s fine!

Creator of such a not-so-abstract concept is of course David Millar who recognises Girona is almost its own brand, and he did more than most to shape it into the place it is today.

“I came here 12 years ago because it was the perfect training base, we’ve since chosen to live here as a family and start a new life in this amazing place; it’s CHPT3 in more ways than one for us!

“I’ve witnessed Girona grow into the cycling capital of the world, so many people have arrived and businesses started in the past few years – Eat Sleep Cycle represent this new wave of enthusiasm, passion and professionalism better than anybody, and we’re over the moon they want to work with us and that together we have the same vision to help shape Girona and the Costa Brava into the world’s best cycling destination.

“It’s a journey we want to share together, and with anybody else who fancies joining us on the ride.”

We’re excited to see where this takes us at Eat Sleep Cycle! Come join us for the official launch tonight from 5pm at the Eat Sleep Cycle Hub.

All photos by CHPT3.

Paddy Bevin Tour de France Diary; “Getting in the break is about skill, horsepower and luck”

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Tour de France Diary Stage 13, Bourg d´Oisans to Valence, 170k

We´re edging higher into the double digits for stages completed and thankfully, yesterday offered a little more respite than the three days previous.

There was more downhill than uphill, which is rare, but don´t think for a second we were out for a Sunday ´bunchy´!

Yes, we covered 170k in an eye-watering 3 hours and 45 minutes….at an average speed of 45kph, bringing my saddle time up to a tidy 55 hours for the race so far.

It was just about trying to keep my legs as fresh as possible in the hope I can get in a break soon.

The long, hot stages in the Alps have taken their toll and the peloton is definitely tired now, and some more tired than others.

Yesterday we managed to get Michal in the break and what a relief that was that the move went by the time we hit the base of the  cat three climb after 30k!

In fact, the break went very early when escape artist Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) finally cleared the field with my Kiwi countryman Thomas Scully (EF Education First-Drapac).

Michael and Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) stormed across, the peloton gave them the green light and they were gone for much of the day.

The fact they were gone before the cat three climb meant there was no real race up it and we in the bunch were all spared a big effort!

Getting in a break is a complex mix of blind luck,  timing and skill.

A rider high on GC is unlikely to get away, as is a sprinter because nobody wants to go to the line with them.

Guys who have had their heads down in the race are given more slack, and Michael is one  of those. He skipped across at a perfect time, so his timing was right. 

In short, if you´re strong as a horse you don´t need as much luck. If you´re not so strong, you need to be in the right place at the right time and get the nod from the bunch.

Michael was the last man standing yesterday as the other three dropped off one by one. 

Groupama-FDJ-led were among those really driving it on and with 25k to go it was clear Michael was never going to stay out there as his lead was cut to 30 seconds.

He made one last effort to try and stay away by going really deep over a small climb but with a hungry pack containing Sagan, it needed a lot more than what Michael had left to survive.

Still, he ended the day as the most combative rider and that was very fitting, given his efforts.

Greg gave the sprint a decent crack and took fifth, which proves he is far more than a one-trick pony!

Today we´ve another hilly one with an uphill finish on the cards. We start in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux and finish in Mende with a total of 188k and 4 categorised climbs to get through.

The stage is too hilly for a pure sprinter to win and could be one for the break so I´ll be trying to get in this!

The categorised climbs are Cote du Grand Chataignier (Cat. 4, with an average of 7.4% and a distance of 1km), Col de la Croix de Berthel (Cat.2 with an average of 5.3% and a distance of 9.1km), Col du Pont Sans Eau (Cat.3 with an average of 6.3% and a distance of 3.3km) and Cote de la Croix Neuve (Cat.2 with an average of 10.2% and 3 km long).

Let´s see how we go.

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour de France Diary: “It was one of the most memorable climbs I´ve ever done”

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Tour de France Diary: Stage 12, Bourg Sant Maurice Les Arcs – Alpe d´Huez, 175k

When I eventually hang up my racing wheels, yesterday is one of the days I´ll recall with very fond memories.

Growing up in Taupo, New Zealand, I remember watching the Tour de France in the black of night and counting down the days until the race would hit the high mountains.

Alpe d´Huez is one of the sport´s iconic climbs and I would smash up hills near where I lived thinking I was on it, banking into each of the 21 hairpin bends and soloing away to victory.

As soon as I saw the route for this year´s Tour last October I had it as a goal for 2018 – to make the Tour de France team for BMC and savour the atmosphere on Alpe d´Huez.

If you´re a professional bike rider, it´s the race you really want to do and Alpe d´Huez is up there as one of the truly standout places to be.

So starting into yesterday´s 12th stage, I knew it would be a fight to the finish because Team Sky had a clear battle plan to really crush the opposition.

The pace from the drop of the flag was relentless and the 160k that preceded the climb was horrible, absolutely horrible.

I have to take my hat off to Kruijwijk for his long shot solo break because that was one hell of an effort. When I heard he was 6 minutes clear of the peloton I just thought, wow, that guy deserves to win!

The hardest part of the climb is the bottom but the crowds really pull you along. They´re in on top of you, shouting and screaming and urging you for more effort.

I was neatly tucked into a knot of around 40 riders and we were literally being sucked along. You hear your name being called on occasion, you get beer thrown over you, the noise is constant, there´s smoke and flares and Dutch guys in orange clothes going bonkers.

We hit corner 10 and it was like Ireland had invaded France there was such a crew there! One man in the race to support but what an atmosphere they created!

It was one of the most memorable climbs I´ve ever done in my life and afterwards you´re just so wiped out but you think, I could do that again some day! Hopefully I´ll have many more days on it in the Tour.

Maybe I´ll be a bit further up as well! We were all safely inside the time limit, which was some consolation. After that, it´s all about getting home really. There´s not much more you can do.

The pace is still pretty solid going up and though you find it hard to get your heart rate very high up after 12 days of hard racing, my power numbers told me I was still pushing harder than maybe I´d like.

That´s the same for us all though, and even though we were almost half an hour down on Geraint, we still had to fight for all our worth yesterday.

The atmosphere in these bunches can get a little terse too from time to time, and yesterday I´d describe it as glum!

But then again, if you go out and ride 5,200 metres and get a beer flung in your face, maybe you´re entitled to be a little cranky too!

Today, thankfully, has more downhill than uphill, which is to be celebrated.

It will probably end in a sprint unless the breakaway hold out.  We´re starting in beautiful Bourg d’Oisans and before we reach Valence after 168k we have 2 categorised climbs.

With so many sprinters gone from the race now; Cav, Kittel, Gaviria, Groenewegen and Greipel it means that there are even less teams to actually want to pull back a break for the sprint.

But once Sagan is there, you know Bora-Hansgrohe will pull for him.

Hopefully today I can get a chance to recover and maybe even sniff out a break!

Wish me luck.

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour de France Diary: “The number of Kiwi flags and silver ferns give me shivers”

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Tour de France Diary Stage 11, Albertville to La Rosiere, 108k

Deep in the Alps. Deep in suffer mode. At times, yesterday was like being submerged in water with our nostrils above the surface.

It was a pretty tough stage as we knew it would be after Tuesday´s er, stalemate?

I knew what to expect because we rode this exact stage last month on stage 6 of the Dauphine but the Tour is like the bigger, badder, uglier brother to the Dauphine. 

The Tour is the show. The Dauphine is the rehearsal. As Sean Kelly says on Eurosport, the Tour is the “100% race”! 

You don´t leave anything behind because you can´t. It was a short stage, relatively, but give me a 250k snore-fest over a 100k boxing match, uphill, any day!

Sadly for us yesterday, we lost the jersey. Greg gave all he could but when Team Sky decide to let rip, they take no prisoners and his eight-day reign as race leader is over.

He´s not disappointed to be unseated, mind. It was a run that had to come to an end at some point and he defended it very well on the first mountain stage on Tuesday. So we can all be proud of his, and our own, efforts.

Few riders can live with Sky when they ride like that.

I rolled home in the group with Greg around 22 minutes down and he´s now 27th overall. So our attention now goes to chasing stage wins, as Damiano demonstrated yesterday.

It was great to see him wriggle away and show his talent in an effort to win the stage, and I´m sure we´re going to see more of that in the next 10 days.

Riding up these Alpine climbs is an exhilarating experience. Forget the lactic acid and burning in the legs, the crowds are just unbelievable and they help numb that pain. 

A huge shout out to the Kiwi supporters who´ve come further than anyone on this planet to cheer us on.

There are only four of us in the race; myself, Dion Smith, Tom Scully and Jack Bauer but the amount of silver ferns and Kiwi flags the last few days have been inspiring!

Thank you guys! 

When that adrenaline courses through you on a stage it´s a magical feeling and you can go that little bit deeper to stay with the group. But boy is it a different story when it wears off and you sink into the seat on the team bus after a stage.

Now, onto day 12 today and that jaw-dropping Alpine behemoth towering above us; Alpe d´Huez!

It´s a new one for me because we didn´t do it last year. My earliest memory of it was watching it as a 13-year old kid growing up near Lake Taupo on New Zealand´s North Island.

The Tour would be on at crazy times of the day for me but  I´d be up watching it after midnight as we´re 10 hours ahead down there. The worst part was having to go to bed straight after it and wait until morning to ride my bike, thinking I was in the Tour ripping around the lake. 

I remember Lance Armstrong absolutely blitzing Ivan Basso back then, passing him on the road like he was standing still. The crowds blew me away and I remember thinking ´I want to be there some time´. 

They estimated the crowds at 750,000 people back then. 

But before Alpe d´Huez today we have to get over the Col de Madeleine (Cat. HC, avg. gradient of 6.2% and a distance of 25.3km), Lacets de Montvernier (Cat. 2, avg gradient of 8.2% and a distance of 3.4km), Col de la Croix de Fer (Cat HC, avg gradient of 5.2% and a distance of 29 km ) and then Alpe d’Huez (Cat.HC, avg. gradient 8.1% and a distance of 13.8km).

Don´t expect me to be passing any GC guys on the road like Lance did, however!

Thanks for reading.

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour Diary: “Greg skipped across on the last ticket out of town”

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Tour de France Diary Stage 10; Annecy – Le Grand Bornand, 158k

We´re almost at the halfway point in the race and all things considered, we´re doing pretty well.

Greg is in the yellow jersey and what an awesome ride yesterday to not only hold it on terrain many felt he´d flounder on, but he actually extended his lead over everyone too!

Now, that didn´t happen by chance as we had a plan for him going into the stage that involved getting in the break – if it was big enough.

What exactly does that mean? Well, breaks are funny coalitions at times. A successful break is one that involves riders who are all committed to riding – hard. 

A successful break involves a ´coalition of the willing´ where everyone spills their guts out and is usually only thinking about the stage win.

Yesterday we saw 20 guys skip off the front until one more got the last ticket out of town to make it 21…Greg Van Avermaet. 

It was beautiful to watch him arrow out of the pack, straight across to the break like a train, onto the front to help pull out a decent gap and when the others in the move saw they had a V8 engine in Greg onboard, they responded.

Greg is a fighter and won´t give up yellow easily. He´s courageous and smart and strong as hell. He´s not built like a climber, but he can go deep and haul himself over some big ones.

He had no intention of riding for the stage yesterday, only the time gap to the GC guys interested him, so the other guys in the break had the time of their lives thinking stage win – until they exploded, one after another. 

He was out there in the break for over 100 kilometres yesterday and in the end he ´only´ managed to take a minute out of the GC group, but every second counts in this Tour and every day we´re in the jersey is a good day.

My own day was about tagging guys we didn´t want in the break. By that I mean jumping on the wheels of guys I knew wouldn´t work in the break – if Greg got in there. 

We needed a willing coalition to give Greg a shot at getting up the road and staying up there. 

And if guys aren´t prepared to work in the break it´s pointless having Greg there because that unwillingness or sheer laziness of some riders to work is like a virus that spreads and the break is quickly brought to heel.

So once Greg and co got away, my day was about survival. I´m definitely feeling tired after the first week, though I´m not too bad because I came into the Tour in really good shape.

It´s just a slow, grinding fatigue. Your legs hurt when you plant them on the floor in the morning after getting out of bed, stairs hurt, they´re stiff and a little stale. Any cyclist knows that feeling.

But the rest day did me good.

Staying on top of your nutrition is another overlooked aspect of this job.

I´m burning around 4,200 calories a day on the bike, not to mention the energy required for normal metabolism, recovery, and during sleep. So in total, that´s north of 7,500 calories a day!

Wine, believe it or not, is sometimes part of the diet and yes, we actually have a fully-stocked fridge in the team bus!

When we win, it´s important to celebrate as it helps drive up team morale and a small toast is enjoyed! But most of the time it stays in the fridge and besides, I haven’t the energy to open a bottle after a stage!

Maybe I´ll find it if we get over today and tomorrow in the yellow jersey!

Today´s stage is another mountain stage in the French Alps, starting a few hours from now in Albertville and ending at the ski station of La Rosière.

The stage is only 108k but with 4 categorised climbs packed in there – so yes, it´s one for the skinny guys.

I know the stage very well as it is the same course as this year´s stage 6 of the Dauphine.

The 4 categorised climbs will be Montee de Bisanne (HC),  Col du Pre (Cat. HC), Cormet de Roselend (cat.2) and La Rosiere (cat.1).  

I´m predicting a showdown between the big GC guys with Dan Martin, Yates, Thomas and Froome all likely to be there.

Say a prayer!

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour de France diary: “Hopefully I can recoup a bit of energy after a week defending yellow”

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Tour de France diary; Rest day. July 16th, 2018

Boy was I in need of that day off yesterday!

Like I said in yesterday´s blog, my day would consist of very, very, very little, so if it´s excitement you´re after in this post, you can stop reading now!

90 minutes of easy pedalling is what I did, followed by complete rest at the team hotel.

By easy, I mean VERY easy, just me and the guys and a few of the staff (who were badly in need of some saddle time after a stressful opening week!).

It was as much a physical break as a mental one and that involved having as little stress, noise and distractions as possible.

Racing the Tour is the ultimate test of your cycling ability and it tests you in every way but when I´m wound up, I like to take a step back and look at this life I´m living and say, it ain´t so bad.

Rest days give me that headspace and I tried not to think too much about the week ahead.

Of course, when you´re in the Tour bubble it´s hard to escape and I know a punishing day lies ahead today.

I´ve raced in the Alps before: last year´s Tour and the Dauphine just a few weeks ago.

They´re unforgiving and we know it´s likely Greg will lose the jersey today, so we´re prepared for that.

But saying that, having a GC rider brings a certain responsibility and it means no matter how easy or hard a day it is, you still have to be switched on.

Feeding, watering and keeping Greg out of the wind will be the goal. 

Maybe a post-cycling career as a horticulturist is calling?

Today´s stage will be the first real mountain day  of this year´s race and we´re going to see the first big GC battle.

We roll out of Annecy and if you´ve not been, you really should check it out. What an awesome spot with a beautiful lake and a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere. I can´t help but notice the mountains soaring skyward from every direction!

Today´s stage to Le Grand Bornard is 158.5k and with a total of 5 categorised climbs, and real climbs for the first time in this year´s race.

I´ve raced in the Alps last year at the Tour and the Dauphine a few weeks ago so I know what to expect.

They´re brutal, no doubt, and if you have a bad day you´re going to lose time.

The first and the smallest categorised climb will be a cat 4 (Col de Bluffy) with an average of 5.6% and a distance of 1.5km, so that will be fine if I can go deep for a few minutes.

The second one is a different story, though. It´s the cat 1 Col de la Croix Fry with an average of 7% and a distance of 11.3k followed by the biggest of the stage, cat HC (Plateau des Glières climb)  with an average of 11.2% and a distance of 6k.

By that stage the race will be broken into pieces – though there are still two more climbs to go; the cat. 1 (Col de Romme) with an average of 8.9% and a distance of 8.8k and the fifth cat.1 ( Col de la Colombière) with an average of 8.5% and a distance of 7.5k.

Expect to see a major GC showdown here this afternoon. 

Oh, and if that wasn´t hard enough, we´re going to ride a gravel road for the first time since 1991!

Time to get kitted up!

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour diary: “Whoever wins this Tour will have deserved it after yesterday”

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Tour de France Diary: Stage 9 Arras – Roubaix, 156k

Reflecting on yesterday´s epic battle in Northern France I´m reminded of the scene from the film Gladiator when Russell Crowe addresses the crowd after dispatching a challenger in a fight and yells, “are you not entertained, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?” to the assembled gallery

It was crazy stuff out there on the road to Roubaix and one of the stages we´ll talk about for a long time to come.

We had a popular winner in Degenkolb, a brutal fight for yellow, a day that went horribly wrong for us so early when Richie crashed out but was salvaged by Greg holding the jersey for another day.

Richie crashing out was truly gutting for him, the team and our legion of followers who are at the team bus every single morning to wish us well.

There´s Aussie flags and Kiwi flags and familiar faces and accents and it gives me shivers down my spine when I come out from behind the curtain to warm up before the stage.

Yesterday started out like every other on Tour and though we knew chaos would ensue, we had no idea how bad it would be.

Richie has ridden a textbook race so far and hit home runs every day in finishing in the front, staying alert, picking his way up the GC standings, and then wallop, it´s all over.

Crashes are a part of cycling and they´re horrible to see and hear and feel. You sense them coming, you hear them happening and you sure as hell feel them if you´re on the floor.

For Richie, it´s particularly galling because the same happened him last year on the same day. Lightning striking twice? Check. Broken pelvis last year, broken clavicle this year. What a crazy sport, eh?

Though I´ve ridden Paris-Roubaix a couple of times, those cobbled sectors never get any smoother. You have to try and pick the best line through them, with everyone else scrapping for the same piece of road.

Some guys ride up the gutters on the left and right, some hammer over the middle of them, most have no choice where they go. You just follow the wheel in front and hope he knows what he´s doing.

Handling is compromised greatly, but it´s strangely exhilarating. You´re nervous on the approach to the cobbled sectors, bricking it as you ride over them, and anticipating the next sector after you´ve come out of one.

There were groups all over the road yesterday and it was hard to know who was where. All I knew was Richie was on the way to hospital, Greg was in the front and Tejay wasn´t. 

Though I had no personal ambitions of winning yesterday, my chances of a good finishing place went out the window when I gave up a wheel mid-race as we had some punctures and crashes.

Aside from that I enjoyed the cobbles. It made for an incredibly difficult day but we´ve all known the course for months and on the balance of everything, everyone adjusted accordingly.

I´ve said already that cycling is never a smooth road, progress is never linear, so you just have to roll with it. Degenkolb won yesterday…how hard has he had to fight for that? Many said he would never be the same man again after he was knocked down during a training ride a few years ago. Chapeaux to him. 

It´s bike racing and you just have to accept that shit happens. We´re waking up this morning with Richie out of the race, our next most-likely contender Tejay over six minutes down and Greg facing the prospect of losing it tomorrow when we hit the Alps. 

Life goes on, we have had an amazing week so far and we move onto the next day, but I´ll say one final thing: whoever wins this Tour will have earned it after surviving yesterday.

So after picking ourselves up we had a bit of a transfer last night as we start phase two of the race this week. The Alps loom and the GC is going to be shaken up tomorrow.

The transfers have been okay but the days are long as we navigate the Tour circus, even when the kilometres to and from the stage are short.

That down time is spent sleeping or relaxing, or eating!

On that note, a shout out to our Italian chef Mirko Sut who has been cooking for us on this Tour. Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach and the man who has kept us fuelled so far deserves special praise for what he whips up every morning and evening.

8 starving riders and an army of support staff is a lot of mouths to feed but Marko always lifts our spirits when he serves us dinner at night.

Today, the first rest day of the race, will be all about recovering from the opening 9 stages and the plan for me is 1.5 hours on the bike to help keep my legs from going stiff, followed by 22.5 hours lying down – or off my feet at least.

We´re down to seven men in the race – and no GC man, so we´re going to see a change in my role after tomorrow´s Alpine stage.

Hopefully I can recoup a bit of energy after a week defending yellow and then see how the rest of the stages unfold…

Thanks for reading.

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour diary: “We were completely across the road and still riding at almost 400w.”

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Stage 7, Fougeres to Chartres, 231k

Sorry if we bored you yesterday! Let´s get that out there before we start, shall we?

It was the longest of the race at 231 kilometres and on a pan-flat course, it was always going to be a day for the sprinters.

After the madness of the opening six stages I think everybody was keen for an ´easier´day and an average speed of just 40 kilometres an hour would suggest that.

But that doesn´t paint the full picture for a guy who spent over half of it towards – or on, the front keeping sketch.

There are no ´rest days´ when you have to ride 231 kilometres and for me, it was more of the same of the babysitting role I´ve done for the opening week.

By babysitting I mean constantly checking on Richie and Greg who is our GC leader and man in yellow, respectively.

We like to think Greg is minding the jersey for Richie and will pass it over to him when we get into the Alps next week! But let´s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Back to yesterday and as easy as it may have looked on TV, it was another day on tour for me.

For the last 120k I had to be on point and ready to be right there for my team.

Whenever there is wind there is danger and stress as some teams, namely Ag2r La Mondiale on this occasion, tried to split the race in the crosswind.

They do that by basically riding hard when the wind is buffeting us from the side, forcing a sharp rise in the pace.

They ramp up the speed and you can almost imagine a bell sounding to warn the peloton of impending danger and the safest place to be is at the very front!

It just puts the whole bunch on edge and anyone at the back is thinking, ´f***, time to get out of dodge´.

As it happened, a few GC men missed a split but the wind died down, their teammates went back for them and paced them back up. But it´s stress we can do without and energy we need to save.

At one point we were completely across the road and still riding at almost 400w. That´s a lot of power just to stay in front.

I read last night how some guys used the stage to chat and mingle and shoot the breeze with each other. Not me, though. I don´t really get time to chat, though I catch up with the Kiwi guys when I can.

It´s funny how the four of us live in Girona: that´s me, Dion, Scully and Jack but we use a Tour stage to catch up!

Anyway, we all got through it again, so it was another successful day defending yellow.

That brings us on to today which starts in Dreux just west of Paris and heads north for the finish in Amiens, with 181 kilometres ahead of us this afternoon.

Arnaud Démare is from the area and he will be among the favourites to win the stage as it is more than likely going to end in a sprint.

Speaking of the sprint stages, how hectic are they? I can´t recall a time when there was such an amount of fast men in the bunch and I could probably rattle off the names of 15 guys who can justifiably fancy it today.

Greipel is among those and he´ll be hunting his first win of this year´s race having also won in Amiens three years ago.

There´s likely going to be echelons, but maybe nothing strong enough to rip the race apart and with a wicked cobbled stage awaiting us tomorrow I reckon teams are wanna keep their powder dry for that.

Having said that, there´s still a couple of climbs to negotiate today; one after 35 kilometres with an average gradient of 4.3% for 2 kilometres and the second after  71 kilometres with an average of 4.3% and a similar distance of 2.3km.

That latter climb is over 100 kilometres from the finish, so expect another helter-skelter finish because the sprinters might not get another shot at it for a while!

Thanks for reading.

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour diary: “It´s nice to have everyone there in a stressful situation.”

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Stage 6, Brest to Mur de Bretagne, 181k

So, we´re still in yellow for another day and that makes it three days in-a-row we´re starting the stage with the coveted jersey.

Greg was coolness personified yesterday and rode a textbook final, following the wheels and not allowing any major GC threat give him the slip.

Of course, the top of the standings are so closely congested that he had to be vigilant but he really showed his quality as a bike rider  crossing the line 12th and losing no time to any of the big guns.

In fact, the day got even better for us when we discovered what happened some of the other GC guys.

Froome lost five seconds to the group containing Richie, Yates, Quintana and Nibali, while Dumoulin had bad luck with a puncture and lost 53 seconds.

Richie, our main guy for the overall, did a similarly perfect job to Greg, squeezing it a little in the final and being pro-active instead of reactive.

He came across the line just ahead of Greg in 11th, moved up one place overall to 11th and he´s looking better by the day.

Okay, Dan Martin smoked everyone with that winning attack at a kilometre to go and nobody could match him, not even Richie.

A hat tip to the Irish guy for that effort into the wind with a racing pack on his wheel.

So, my own day was probably a little more uneventful than theirs, and when I think about it, the exact opposite in energy use; I rode hard and long early, they rode hard and short very late. But I´m okay with that.

After the break went – kudos to my Kiwi buddy Dion for getting out there again, I had a good, long stint in the wind at the start of the stage, just dragging the bunch along.

Brittany can be a windy area and true to form, we got pretty well blown around the place.

The conditions were far from wild but they were enough to see Nibali, Dan Martin, Fuglsang, Quintana and Mikel Landa lose contact for a while before getting back on.

Roglic too. He had to chase for almost 30 kilometres before getting back on, and that´s not what he´d have wanted if he´s really looking to win the race.

Thankfully, my own stint at the front meant I had no such worries about being caught behind, and the same for the boys. So that was another little victory for us.

You´re at the front, you know there´s panic behind but when I glanced around to see where the boys were, it was comforting to see them right up towards me.

I stayed with the bunch until around 20k to go when I was completely fried and the punchy climbs in the final were too much for me.

Quick-Step were trying to set something up for Alaphilippe, Sky were pressing, as were Mitchelton-Scott and several others.

The pace just went up and up and up, and I just had no more. But my job was done and I was happy I´d done my shift and left it over to Greg and Richie.

Mitchelton-Scott showed some real quality by firing Jack Bauer loose in an effort to force a reaction from the others.

With his teammate Adam Yates´ability on a sharp finish like yesterday´s, it made total sense.

Jack was absolutely flying and what a moment again for New Zealand cycling to have him light up the final like that!

He was always going to be caught but what people probably don´t see is that selfless effort from him allowed Yates finish 6th and move up three places overall to 13th.

I rolled in with the grupetto; the sprinters, the injured and the sick, all of us with our own different tales of how the race went.

Today´s stage will be more of the same for me; a long pull on the front, playing the domestique role, keeping Richie and Greg in the front and keeping a close eye on that breakaway´s advantage.

Some of you have been asking what do we eat the morning of a long day and for me, it´s a pretty tried and tested routine of omelette, muesli, banana, yoghurt and a smoothie. Maybe I´ll have a bit more of each this morning given what´s ahead!

Thanks for reading.

Paddy

Paddy Bevin Tour diary: “My gel count for the race took a sharp rise yesterday”

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Stage 5, Lorient to Quimper, 205k

Yesterday I took the gel count up to a whopping 23 for the race so far, bumping it up from 17 the day before.

Keeping the yellow jersey is not easy and demands full focus and a huge amount of energy.

The stage from Lorient to Quimper was over 200 kilometres and as leaders of the race we went in with the dual plan of protecting Greg and keeping Richie as fresh as possible.

This means myself, Michael, Simon, Damiano, Tejay and Stefan all taking turns fetching bottles and pulling on the front.

The stage was done in just under 5 hours and we were on the front for at least 3 of that, yours truly definitely spending a large portion of that at the pointy end.

It´s a nice position to be in, actually, and I enjoy it a lot. To me, and I´ve always said this, the most important thing for me is I´m racing and we´re in the bike race and playing a major role in what goes on.

We´ve such a strong team and we´re there in every move, every day so far. Many other teams haven´t shown their hand yet, though that´s obviously not going to last and Team Sky are just waiting to hit any day now.

Maybe today´s we´ll see a shift, and if not today, there´ll be fireworks before this first week is out.

Richie likes being near the front and it´s a measure of the man´s GC credentials that he´s always up there, staying as far away from danger as possible.

Danger can come in an instant and you can be brought down to earth, literally, in a flash.

Yesterday, my Kiwi mate Dion (Smith) rode the stage in the Polka Dot jersey and I was on the front for most of the stage but a reminder of how quickly things can change is when the two of us got caught up in a crash with two others.

We were up and riding in no time, but it served as a timely reminder of how things can take a turn without warning.

Rolling around Brittany, over 2,600 metres of climbing in total, is bloody hard.

And with five punchy climbs packed into the final portion of the race I knew I wouldn´t be there to assist Greg and Richie as my work was done by then and it was over to the boys.

Greg showed his class by taking a couple of bonus seconds at the top of the last climb with 12 kilometres to go, and he´s two seconds clear of teammate Tejay in second overall.

We know Greg is going to lose yellow at some point, and that´s okay, because the race is long and it´s very early days.

I can´t recall too many teams who wanted to hold yellow from stage three, even less who actually did manage it.

Onto today then and deep in Bretagne heartland, the hotbed of French cycling.

Today´s stage finish, the Mûr-de-Bretagne was featured in the Tour back in 2011 and I remember it because Cadel Evans won ahead of Alberto Contador.  

It´s a two-kilometre climb we´ll do twice, with a time bonus sprint three kilometres after the first passage. We´ll be hoping to have Richie up there fighting for that.

There´ll probably be a small group contesting the stage, and most likely a reduced group behind that.

It’s actually the kind of stage that suits Greg very well, and we´ll be hoping to have Richie sniffing around as well.

Time to sign on.

Thanks for reading.

Paddy

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