Thursday 19 October 2017

'It's a fine line between flat out and flat on your back'

'Our young Swiss rider Tom Bohli took a lot of risks to finish eighth on the stage but Tejay slid out on the first corner before he even got a chance to get going.' (Stock image)
'Our young Swiss rider Tom Bohli took a lot of risks to finish eighth on the stage but Tejay slid out on the first corner before he even got a chance to get going.' (Stock image)

Nicolas Roche

Tuesday April 25, Prologue: Individual time trial - Aigle (4.8km)

This year, instead of following what has become my usual race programme of riding the Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classics after the Tour of the Basque Country, a couple of weeks ago the team asked me to stay at home and do a training block instead.

I'm not one of those riders that can stay in top shape from one end of the year to the other so the idea is to build up steadily towards my summer goals, rather than arriving into each race with maybe a bit of fatigue from the previous one still in the legs.

This way though, there are less races to prove myself in so hopefully I can show them that I have come on another bit this week.

Having arrived in Switzerland on Sunday for the six-day Tour of Romandie, my team-mates and I went out for a training ride yesterday morning.

On the road for two and a half hours, we took in both today's prologue time-trial course and the summit finish of tomorrow's opening road stage but with the sun beating down and spectacular scenery all around us it was one of those days where I would have done five hours if I hadn't been racing today.

After checking the weather forecast last night though, we knew things were about to change.

With rain predicted for late afternoon today, we agreed that our overall contenders; American Tejay Van Garderen and Tasmanian Richie Porte, would be best served starting their time trial early in the 152 man pecking order in the hope that they would get dry roads and be able to clock a fast time.

As I'm here to ride as support for the guys, I was last of the team and third last rider to start.

With one minute intervals between each rider's start time, my race against the clock began around two hours later, which meant a pasta and omelette lunch on the bus and a lot of sitting around killing time before I rolled down the ramp.

As it turned out, it rained all day so Richie and Tejay got no advantage on their rivals, most of whom had also chosen to start early.

In such a short wet time trial - winner Fabio Felline of Trek Segafredo did it in less than six minutes - there's a fine line between riding flat out and ending up flat on your back.

Our young Swiss rider Tom Bohli took a lot of risks to finish eighth on the stage but Tejay slid out on the first corner before he even got a chance to get going.

Although he picked himself up and was able to finish the stage in a respectable time, he was disappointed with himself.

Personally, I rode hard on the straight sections but, determined not to come down in the last shower, took it gingerly around the wet corners, crossing the line in a time of 6 mins 10 secs to finish 24th on the stage, while Richie and Tejay, with the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France looming for them respectively, took less risks and were maybe 20 seconds slower.

Most of the team leaders did the same and I don't think the time differences will matter much when we hit the Swiss Alps tomorrow.

As my BMC team are Swiss and we have four Swiss riders here, this is a pretty important race for us.

We've a mixed squad in Romandie, with some riders coming off a tough spring classics campaign, some going to the Giro next month and others eyeing the Tour in July so while we're keen to impress and will hopefully be competitive, we're not here to try and stamp our authority on the race by riding on the front all day.

In contrast to some of the other teams I've been on, at BMC we ride a bit more conservatively, sheltering in the peloton until we need to, which means I shouldn't be killing myself on the flat as much as before and could be a bit fresher if I'm needed or if an opening presents itself during the week.

In a country renowned for it's snow-capped mountains, we can be sure of a lot of climbing over the next five days and we have a first category summit finish to look forward to tomorrow.

Hopefully the rain stays off.

Tour of Romandie Live Eurosport 2, 3.0

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