Another stage passed and after a transfer of medium duration, I joined my hotel room for the night. So far, accommodation at Tour de France Wasn’t too bad actually even though wifi sucked last night. To be honest, aside from the fact that I couldn’t talk to my family, a lack of connectivity was probably for the best.
It meant no social media and frankly less stress after what happened on stage 5. Lots of things happened but if you want me to sum up the last two stages in a nutshell it would have to be Russian mountains”. It was an incredible race.
Honestly, I don’t know how else to describe it. I keep getting random emotional flashes. One moment I feel like I could crumble and roll into a ball, then the next moment I feel like I’m on top of the world and realizing I’m achieving childhood dreams. My mind keeps going back and forth between these alternate states, but when I’m racing I feel like I’m still able to focus on the task at hand and run with my EF Education–EasyPost teammates.
I can put it in the back of my head when the flag drops, but as soon as I get off my bike I switch between thinking “wow, I’m second in the Tour de France to” man, I could have been in yellow ” and then to ‘but I’m only four seconds from yellow.’ It’s so hard to describe. It’s a tussle in my head.
I guess I also want to set the record straight on a few points. First of all, there is no resentment between Alberto Bettiol and me. We were both racing for the team and I think the race was so chaotic with everyone operating with limited information. Bettiol and I are very good friends and we would never intentionally race against each other. He just showed again today on stage 6 what an incredible teammate he is. He always put his nose in the wind for me and always shouted for me. He was an incredible teammate today. I never doubted him.
Today we threw everything at it and tried to take the jersey but at the end of the day I ran into Pogačar, and the guy is the best cyclist in the world. He’s an amazing cyclist and it’s a shame I couldn’t take yellow. I have no regrets and the team did everything for me. I was proud of them and we are still second in the Tour de France.
Behind the scenes, the directors just tell me to stay focused. They realized I’m a very practical person, so I don’t dwell much on the past. I’ve learned my lesson in previous races to trust my body and keep my emotions in check, because the differences now between being dropped and winning all come down to the split-second decisions you make throughout of the day. All they can do is keep me calm and relaxed because I can get overexcited.
And looking at the bigger picture, if you had told me during the Tour de Suisse, when there was COVID-19 and all this uncertainty, that I would be second behind Pogačar on the Tour after six stages, I would have wondered who crashed. So far as a team we have come pretty far and I just like racing my bike. I like tactics and thinking on my feet and that’s what this race has been about for the past five days. Now all I have to do is trust my body that I’ve trained enough for the mountain.
For the future, my job is quite simple. I just need to conserve my energy as much as possible and then basically run with the favourites. To be honest, that sounds like a pretty big privilege. If that plan changes in the next few days, that’s great. I will adapt but I will be proud to race with the best riders.