Tour de France

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 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 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 Bevin Tour Diary: “We were all on keep-Richie-and-Greg-out-of-danger duty”

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Stage 4, La Baule – Sarzeau, 195k

Another day in the bag, yellow held, Richie very much in the race now, and onto the next challenge.

Yesterday was all about staying vigilant, eating and drinking enough, keeping Richie and Greg out of any danger and making their lives as easy as possible.

For a domestique, it´s our role to do the pace-setting when we´ve a man in the leader´s jersey and that meant sitting on the front for much of the opening half of the stage yesterday, once the break went.

Four riders got away and once happy with the composition, we just settled into the task of riding on the front and slowly, slowly letting them fry themselves out there.

There was also a headwind for much of the day, so staying away was even more difficult for the guys out there.

The day went really quickly, actually, and though 195 kilometres is a hell of a day for anyone, it seemed to fly by – as completing it in 4 hours and 25 minutes would attest.

And most of that into a headwind too. It helps when Michael and Stefan are riding so strongly and seem to be able to just sit there on the front and churn through the kilometres effortlessly.

I´m feeling good too, though yesterday I broke the gel count record I think when I devoured 17 of them!

A big day at the Tour demands so much of your body and we need to constantly stay on top of it; that means eating and drinking all day long.

We talk about the ´now´a lot in this game and our mantra is, if you are hungry, eat now. If you are thirsty, drink now. If you need a jacket, get it now. If you need to lose a layer, lose it now. If you need to move up, move up now!

One lapse in concentration and you forget to drink, your power is down and you need to make up for it by using energy unnecessarily. Energy that can be used later on when things heat up in the final.

Speaking of the final….another seat of the pants moment for us when a huge crash happened in the middle of the bunch like a bomb going off. A touch of wheels is all it takes and 20 guys are on the floor.

Thankfully none of our guys and we´re onto today´s stage with all skin intact!

Today´s stage takes us 204 kilometres from Lorient to Quimper and ahead of us lies a day designed for Greg.

We could see an exciting sprint but the short climbs will probably select the group a bit more than usual.

I don’t expect all the pure sprinters to hang on after 2,600 meters of climbing and 5 categorized climbs, especially if we consider the 700 m at 9.1% that appear 12 kms before arriving.

Expect some real fireworks there.

This final, especially after all the climbing, looks great for Greg and some of the other classics guys.

The short punchy hills and the finish with for 4.8% in the last k will be exciting as it demands that bit of extra power in the legs.

At that point, and after 200ks only the guys who have done ´nothing´ all day will be able to go there.

We’ll be at the front once again and that will be a demanding task.

Let’s see how this goes…

Wish me luck.



Paddy Bevin Tour Diary: “I will cherish it for the rest of my life”

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Stage 3: Cholet – Cholet, TTT, 35k

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve ever enjoyed as a bike rider and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.

I was part of a stage-winning team in the biggest bike race in the world and it came about by sheer hard work, effort and execution of a plan we’d hatched months ago.

To win a team time-trial at the Tour de France is an amazing feat and one that very few riders ever get to put on their CV.

For some riders, it may be the only chance they ever get to stand on the winning podium and if it never happens me in my career again I’ll always remember the town of Cholet and July 9th, 2018.

Okay, we were one of the favourites for the test yesterday that started and finished in Cholet; we have the best bikes in the peloton, a highly-motivated group and the course was good for us too.

But the margins at this level are tiny and one wrong corner or mistimed pull on the front can really upset your rhythm and see you slip down the standings.

We had the morning to recce the course because our start time wasn’t until 3.30, so we used this time wisely.

We drove around yesterday morning so we could get a feel for it with the crowds gathered. We also rode around it and our coach Marco Pinotti was advising us on where we could go full gas and where would be better to back it off a little.

In actual fact, we rode the course last Wednesday as well when there was no traffic. We all flew in the night before, so this was no accident what happened yesterday. That line about working harder and getting luckier springs to mind…

Marco’s experience was just one another part of the jigsaw, the rest was up to us as a team to decide who’d pull and when.

The rule in this year’s Tour is your finishing time (on a team time-trial) is dictated by the time of your fourth rider crossing the line, meaning we could ‘sacrifice’ four riders if necessary.

By this, we can effectively ‘select’ who would go off hard and who would be ‘spared’ until the latter part of the test.

We knew Michael (Schar) would be dropped but to his immense credit, he emptied himself early on and did some pulls that had me on the ropes.

Now, as it turned out, we finished with five men coming across the line which not only shows how strong we were yesterday, but it also showed an element of caution/maturity because we could allow for a puncture or mechanical.

In other words, had we been down to four riders for the final 10 kilometres and one of them lost contact, the rest of us would have to wait and we wouldn’t have won.

Our winning margin yesterday, by the way, was just four seconds….over 35.5 kilometres. We clocked 38” and 46 seconds at an average speed of 54.9 kilometres an hour.

That’s quite something and a result I am very proud of, considering the wind, the roundabouts and the hills.

We completely deserved that win. Keung was unbelievable yesterday and Greg too. It was just brilliant to see him pull on the yellow jersey after such a long wait in the hotseat.

On that note, I’ve been in that hotseat before for long afternoons counting the riders in.

Primoz Roglic dumped me out of it on the final stage of Pais Vasco, as did my teammate Tejay in California and it’s a sick feeling when you lose it so late.

But not yesterday. After the rush of hugs and high fives and handshakes we got a group photo behind the podium and it’s a moment I’ll cherish dearly as long as I live.

There is something about nailing a time-trial with a team. It brings us closer together and as we head into stage four today, we know we are a closer unit.

Speaking of today, we have another day for the sprinters.

We all know how things can turn around in one second, even on these flat stages, so we’ll have to be completely focused on getting to the finish line safely and protecting Richie as much as possible.

He’s still 51 seconds behind Geraint Thomas, the best placed GC contender, so there’s no gap to lose time on this terrain anymore.

Today we’ll start at La Baule, in the Breton area, and we’ll cover 195 kilometres on rolling terrain to finish in Sarzeau.

It’s not a hilly stage compared to what we’ve ahead, but it’s not a pan flat day.

Even a classified climb (4th category) will come at 135,5 kms. Nothing hard or long, but those looking to wear the the polka dot jersey on at least one stage might want to give it a little squeeze there.

I expect a sprint finish and unlike the second stage, the last kilometres are held on a wide and long avenue (I’ve been told, is one of the longest straight lines in French cycling).

Anyway, sprinters should be aware that as per the roadbook, the terrain has a slight uphill with 2 kms left.

Launching all the power too soon could ruin some expectations to wear green this afternoon.

Let’s just hope they can make it all to the line together and give the public a textbook finish.  

Thanks for reading.


Paddy Bevin Tour Diary: “Everyone was on keep Richie out of trouble duty!”

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Stage 2; Mouilleron-Saint Germain – La Roche-Sur-Yon, 182.5km

Day two is safely in the bag and I guess you could say it is mission completed with all BMC boys coming home in one piece and we turn our attention to today´s team time-trial.

Yesterday, the stress levels went up another few notches as a few of us who lost time on stage one needed to ensure Richie lost no more time to his fellow GC rivals.

Richie is our GC leader going for the overall and having lost 51 seconds on Sunday my job was to protect him from the wind and keep him out of trouble all day yesterday.

And boy was it tough.

The stage was 182 kilometres long and we covered that in just over four hours. Yes, that´s an average speed of around 45 kilometres an hour. Rapid!

The speed wasn´t so much the problem, though. It was the constant yo-yoing in the pace that caused all the stress.

With one rider out front, hat tip to Sylvain Chavanel of Direct Energie for that solo effort, the bunch had to keep a close eye on him and not just assume he´d be caught.

Sylvain is a horse of a man but not even he was likely to stand a chance of winning on his own so early in the race when everyone is still fresh and motivated – and fancies their chances in the sprint.

We were fighting and scrapping for position in the wind one minute and suddenly the pace would drop and you´d fall back the bunch knowing there was a bit of a ceasefire and not so much of a requirement to be in front.

That softening of the pedals feels great as you can recover, take a nature break and just ride and eat and drink.

Doesn´t last long though because what also stresses everyone out is the endless amount of roundabouts and road furniture we have to navigate!

It seems like we are in the most heavily roundabout-populated part of the world!

Despite all this we got through unscathed and without losing time.

My relief at getting Richie through unscathed gave way to pure euphoria when I learnt that my friend and fellow countryman Dion Smith is currently in the King of the Mountains jersey!

What an amazing ride by the guy to go for that and nail it. I couldn´t be any happier for the guy – and what a nice one for New Zealand to have one of our own on the world stage like that!

Today’s stage has a lot of expectation around it for us. The TTT on the Tour de France is always a big day and it will be specially for our team, not only for being one of our strengths, but also because this could be a good chance to help Richie make up some of the time lost on the first stage.

This test against the clock will benefit specialists like me as it covers a relatively flat course, starting and finishing in Cholet. It is also a distance I can do very well, that being 35 kilometres.

Anyway, being a flat day doesn’t mean we’ll have an easy day on the saddle. This is the kind of course that requires full concentration from the squad due to the undulations of the course and the crosswinds that may affect us.

Roundabouts and narrow, twisting roads through towns will also be demanding.

There will be extra pressure around some GC teams, as they need their leaders to recover the time lost on the first stage, just like us. It should be an epic afternoon where we really see a bit more of who is on the egde.

Let’s hope we can have a fast and safe stage!

Keep an eye on the black and red guys today, though!

Thanks for reading.


Paddy Bevin Tour Diary: “Even a combined effort from us and Michelton Scott wasn´t enough to close the gap”

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Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on yesterday’s opener I can say one thing, the Tour is a very different animal to any other.

You might have remembered my opening day last year when I went down hard in the prologue and I wrote on Friday about how I would try and at least better that. Well, I achieved that, but I assure you it was no less chaotic yesterday!

A brutal welcome back to the Tour,  you could say.

In this race, everything is turned up a notch (or 5) and even the easier days are hard.

It’s easy to forget the enormity of the race until you take to the start on day one.

We started from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, an island off the coast of western France in the Vendée department and rode onto the mainland to Fontenay Le Comte.

It was pretty flat with just one categorised climb coming 28 kilometres from the finish but nothing hard enough to dislodge any of the sprinters who were eyeing up the stage.

A break went early, three guys got away and the race was going exactly to plan for us. The gap to the three out front hovered around four minutes but came down, as you’d expect, coming to the final.

The reason that gap tumbles is a quickening in the pace from us behind. I mean real speed.

Speed means tension and tension can lead to crashes and the day escalated in the space of one crash which our GC hopeful Richie was caught up in but thankfully, unhurt.

When that happened, the pace was really on so we had to try and get him back up to the front as quickly as possible, all the while trying to spare his legs as best we could. 

We rode as hard as we could to pace him back up but not even a combined effort from ourselves and the Michelton Scott boys couldn’t close the gap as the sprinter teams started leading it out from a long way.

This was one painful reminder of just how hard the Tour can be!

The first stage is always nervous and today’s opener was no different with everyone feeling fresh and motivated and eager to be at the front.

But of course the road is only so wide and the pace can only be so quick, meaning there comes a point when you just cannot go up any higher.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) lost time in the madness, as did Froome who tumbled into a grassy verge after clipping another rider. And before I had time top process that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) punctured!

But we got through it, with the help of five gels!

Today’s stage is another one for the sprinters, if nothing extraordinary happens. We will again will try to stay safe after the crashes and the stress from yesterday, but this is the Tour and anything can happen, even on pan flat days.

I am writing this from the start at Mouilleron-Saint Germain in the Vendée province and this afternoon we will cover 182.5 kms in the countryside.

The only categorized climb will come 28ks in, when we tackle 1 km at 3,9%. Nothing hard, but a breakaway will probably start setting up after this little bump.

The rest of the stage is flat and the only difficulties will come at the final kilometres where the breakaway will presumably be controlled already and the teams aiming to win this sprint will start seeking their chances.

The road book shows there are sharp corners and roundabouts and the last 900 mts have a slight rise on a narrow road so it will be fun to watch how the specialists handle that lack of space!

NOTE: Watch out for some ´outsiders´ involved in sprints again today. This year’s Tour organisation decided to give extra bonifications for sprints on the first 8 stages (No TTT included) that won’t count for the Green Jersey, attracting other riders to the finish line. 

Hold onto your hats!


Paddy Bevin Tour Diary: “I´ve taken strength from that and used it as a springboard”

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Paddy Bevin is one of four Kiwi riders on the start-list in this year´s Tour de France. He will be blogging for Eat Sleep Cycle from the BMC Racing Team camp each night throughout the race.

Tomorrow I will start my second Tour de France and my third Grand Tour having done the Vuelta in 2015 with the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team.

It’s my first Grand Tour with BMC Racing Team and to say I’m excited for the next three weeks is an understatement.

It’s been a very good season for me personally and I’m here on merit having had a perfect lead-in with the Tour of Yorkshire – where Greg (Van Avermaet) won and I was 9th, the Tour of California and most recently, the Criterium du Dauphine, being the ideal race programme.

Though I was on the long list for the Tour, you´re never sure of your place in the team until you’re standing at the team presentation like I was yesterday.

To my right on the stage was our GC hope, Richie Porte from Australia. He’s in awesome shape having just won the Tour de Suisse and my job for the next three weeks will be to help him win this race. To put it simply, he’s our Plan A, B and C.

He’s never won the Tour before but if we take it day by day and he has a little luck along the way, he can really challenge for the yellow jersey.

I’m proud to be here helping him and the team because my own selection went right down to the wire and I really had to earn it. That gave me a lot of satisfaction. I’ve been riding at the level required but cycling is never a sure thing. Not for me, not for anyone. 

The Tour is the Tour, the biggest race on the calendar and the one everyone wants to be in. I remember the sheer scale of it last year when I made my debut. It’s just enormous. The crowds on the roadside from start to finish are mind-blowing and it really makes all the effort and sacrifices worthwhile.

I’ll be hoping for a better start than last year, mind. That’s my first goal! Most of you will probably remember I crashed on the opening stage after six kilometers and broke my foot. I’m not sure if there are records but I quite possibly became the youngest Tour debutant to crash so early in the race!

But I got through it and I helped Rigo (Uran) finish third overall. It sounds like a cliche in cycling but with that experience in my back pocket, and knowledge of what the race entails, I am more aware of how to take on this race, physically and mentally.

I’ve taken strength from that episode and used it as a springboard for this year.

It’s about improvising in the Tour and for sure things will go wrong for us and everyone else.

You just have to be robust and I think we have a pretty robust team with a lot of experience. You can’t substitute that experience for any amount of ability.

Simon, Greg, Richie, Tejay and Michael have been around the block and know what it takes to get around here. Damiano too – and he’s flying as you saw in the Dauphine. Myself and Stefan are a bit younger but we can get over some of the big climbs and go okay on the flat, and that’s where we´ll be needed.

There’s a lot of wind in the first 10 days and the team time-trial on Monday is a stage we’ll obviously be targeting. There’s cobbles and wind and rain and any amount of things to negotiate so we just need to be vigilant at all times or the race could be over.

The start-list this year is as strong as I can remember and I hope it’ll make for some really good racing. Last year I think it was a bit of a procession to the finish after day 9 or 10.

It was Froome-Bardet and Rigo all the way and the only argument was in what order they’d finish.

They’ll all be there again I’m sure, but I don’t see the race being as straight-forward, not with so many other guys going well.

There are six proper mountain stages in the parcours this year – three of which feature summit finishes – one individual time trial, a team time trial, eight flat stages and five moderately hilly stages.

It’s day by day for us, however, because as we saw with Richie last year, it can all end in a flash.

But I’m ready, Richie’s ready, so roll on the Tour.