Tuesday 27 September 2016

'It was the first time I've been told to ride to my hotel since amateur days'

Nicolas Roche

Published 10/05/2016 | 02:30

The peloton in action. Photo: Getty
The peloton in action. Photo: Getty

Monday May 9, Rest day: Holland (and Italy)

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Normally, a rest day on a Grand Tour means a later than usual breakfast after a much-needed lie-on in bed. A leisurely training spin broken up by a coffee stop is usually followed by an even longer stint in bed to try and recover from the previous stages.

With the whole peloton and the entire Giro organisation from the riders to the support crews and race organisation leaving Holland this morning for tomorrow's restart in Italy, though, today was more of a travel day than a rest day.

The fact that tomorrow's fourth stage takes place in Catanzaro, down the very southern tip of Italy, meant that my Sky team-mates and I stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of Schiphol airport last night to try and make the transfer go as smoothly as possibly.

It still wasn't nice to have to get up at 6.30 this morning in order to have time to grab breakfast and pack my bags before boarding a coach to the airport terminal for the two-a-half-hour flight to Lamezia Terme in Calabria.

Because we have only one team racing this week, none of our team vehicles had to be driven all the way from the Netherlands to southern Italy today.

Headquarters

Instead the team cars and team bus that were with us in Holland made their way back to our service course, or team headquarters, in Nice today as we had a different set of team cars and a second team bus waiting in Italy.

As we'd been staying in the same hotel for most of the time in Holland, our team chef used the hotel's kitchen for the Dutch portion of the Giro and we will eat in the team's kitchen truck, which is also in Italy, from today on.

Only five of the team staff who've been with us since Friday's opening stage will continue through Italy either, with others taking over from them from today.

When we got off the plane, some of those staff met us in the airport and waited for our suitcases as we made our way to the waiting team bus.

After a quick sandwich and a cup of coffee, we got changed into our team kit and drove out of the airport, grabbed our bikes from the waiting team cars and cycled to our hotel, 55km away.

Usually a rest day comes after a week or ten days of racing and by then you're so tired and sore that you don't really have much interest in training, but know that if you don't do it you're going to be even worse the following day when the racing continues.

Today, though, with just three days' racing in our legs, the spin was quite enjoyable and it was nice to be on roads that I've never been on before and be able take in the scenery and sunshine for an hour and three quarters or so.

It was probably the first time that I've been told to ride to my hotel since my amateur days, but the spin meant that we had more actual rest than any of the other teams today.

When we rode into the hotel car park at around 3.30, we met the Ag2r team just going out on their spin.

After a quick chat with the mechanics, who were rebuilding some of our bikes that had been on the plane, I had my massage and spent what was left of the day chilling out in the hotel.

Tomorrow the racing continues with a pretty undulating stage.

With a short hill coming just 10km from the finish line we might see the stage decided by a late attack for the first time on this Giro.

Giro d'Italia, Live, Eurosport, 1.30

Irish Independent

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