Sport Cycling

Sunday 22 September 2019

Conor Dunne's Giro d'Italia diary: 'You're coming down a descent at 70kph and your body can't keep itself warm'

Monday May 27: Rest Day

Conor Dunne among his Israel Cycling Academy teammates during the Giro.
Conor Dunne among his Israel Cycling Academy teammates during the Giro.

Conor Dunne

After 15 stages and almost 68 hours in the saddle on this Giro d'Italia, it's nice to have a rest day today.

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As well as not having to race, you get a break from other stuff too; like not having to pack your suitcase after breakfast because we're staying in the same hotel for two nights.

Our hotel is pretty decent too. It even has a spa. At first we were pretty excited about that, but it turns out that none of us actually have the energy to go to it.

I got to bed at around 11 last night, slept well and woke at 8.30 this morning. I wanted to sleep longer but I couldn't, so I went down a for a slow breakfast instead.

Ruben, Krists and Awet have been feeling sick the past few days with colds and coughs but they are starting to feel a bit better now after resting all day today.

Cyclists are notoriously protective about catching germs and getting sick so we've started to quarantine the guys who have been coughing and spluttering now, just so we all don't catch it. They all have single rooms now and were made eat at a different table last night too.

Team Sky were the first team to introduce hand gel on their team bus so that riders wouldn't catch anything from shaking hands with people before the start and to cut the spread of colds and flu. Everyone has copied that now, but yesterday some of our guys went the extra mile and wore paper surgical masks on the bus transfer back to the hotel just in case they caught it.

After breakfast this morning, I did some more stretching with the team osteopath to try and loosen my back, which has been giving me problems when I climb, and I had some light massage on it before going training at around 11.30.

It's been lashing rain all day here so instead of going out for our usual rest day spin to loosen the legs, we did a session on the indoor trainer instead. As we rode beside each other, it was funny to see bigger gaps between the bikes of those who are sick and those who aren’t.

For an hour I just sat and twiddled a small gear while watching a movie about the Kray twins on netflix, throwing in a few small efforts to get the legs going, before getting changed and heading for lunch.

This afternoon was taken up by more massage, more osteo and two short naps, so basically if I haven't been on a massage table or been seeing the osteo then I've been asleep.

Tiredness comes with the territory but I'm feeling good now and hopefully having this rest day will hep me recover another bit.

We have a few huge few days in the mountains looming and there was a bit of apprehension around the lunch table today when we started talking about the days ahead.

Even though we got good news that the highest climb of this Giro, the Gavia Pass, has been taken out of tomorrow's queen stage as it's impassable due to snow, the race organisers have added two more climbs and we still have the first category Mortirolo to get up at the end.

The weather forecast is to be around 7 degrees and raining all day so it's not going to be pretty.

With all of the descents on the stage, keeping warm is going to be a big thing. It's no joke when you go into the high mountains in the rain or sleet.

I've done it before in Nice, been up to 1300m in March when it started raining and I've never been so cold in my life. You're coming down a descent at 70kph and your body can't keep itself warm. It's like stepping out of a shower and into a giant air dryer that's set on cold. That can really undo you.

The running joke on the team every evening is that somebody says 'the Giro starts tomorrow'. If I was a GC contender then tomorrow would be different, but for me it will be all about getting through the day and being able to start the next one.

I think the fact that I'm so tall and heavy compared to the little climbers is earning me a bit of attention and I have an interview with Italy's biggest daily newspaper, La Gazetta dello Sport, this evening. They probably wonder how I'm going to lug myself over the Dolomites the next few days.

We've got five big days left now ahead of Sunday's final time trial - the hardest week of this Giro. But that's what you expect in the last week of a Grand Tour. That's what you do it for. You have to be pretty good to get to the start of a Grand Tour. It's not often you get the chance to get to the final week of the Giro d'Italia, so I'm proud to still be here and will give it my best shot.

Keep an eye out for Kanturk's Eddie Dunbar over the next few days too. Eddie is riding his first Grand Tour for Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) and is currently 21st overall, even though he has been helping his team a lot during the first two weeks. Even if he drops down the standings this week, it's a huge achievement for him and it's proving what everyone in Ireland has been saying about him for years; Eddie is among the top riders in the world and has a great future ahead of him in the pro peloton.

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