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Dan Martin’s Tour de France diary: ‘I have rarely seen storm damage like it in Andorra’

Tour de France Diary

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General view of riders in action during stage 15 from Ceret to Andorran La Vella. Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

General view of riders in action during stage 15 from Ceret to Andorran La Vella. Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

General view of riders in action during stage 15 from Ceret to Andorran La Vella. Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Monday, July 12: Rest day

I’ve lived in Andorra for almost seven years so when I pulled back the curtains in my hotel room this morning I was faced with a familiar scene. My local shops and restaurants are just a few hundred metres away from where we’re staying for today’s rest day and, as the crow flies, my house is only a few kilometres up the road.

On a normal Tour de France, my wife and daughters would come to the team hotel and visit me on a rest day. I live so close today that I could probably even go home for a couple of hours if I wanted to. But because of the pandemic, I won’t get to see my family at all today.

Personally, I’d really love to hang around with them this afternoon. From a professional point of view though, I’d find it a bit selfish. Our team has maintained a strict bubble throughout this Tour, probably stricter than some other squads, but all it takes is two positives within the team for everyone to be sent home. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take.

While the risk would be minimised if I saw my wife and girls outside, and we all wore masks, that wouldn’t be fair on them either. I’ve been away for two weeks now, so how would I explain to two three-year-olds that they can’t come and give their daddy a hug, that I’ve only got half an hour to talk to them, and that I won’t be going home with them this evening?

Last night, after dinner, I called my wife Jess for a chat. The first thing she said to me was, “Oh my God, look at this weather!”

I had literally just walked across the hotel car park from dinner in our kitchen truck. On the way, Mike Woods and I had been chatting about how warm and peaceful the evening was, so I didn’t know what she was talking about until I looked out the window to see a huge storm cloud swirling overhead.

Within seconds, the trees were leaning into 90kmh gusts, there was scaffolding being blown down across the street and thunder and lightning filled the air as the heavens opened in a storm that lasted quite a while.

On our rest-day spin this morning, we rode down to the Spanish border but the traffic was so bad we didn’t cross it. It’s only just dawned on me that we probably wouldn’t have been allowed anyway, due to Covid.

We passed a few houses with their roofs blown off and had to turn around on a climb overlooking the city as trees had blown across the road. We get storms quite often in Andorra, but I’ve rarely seen damage like that. If it had hit the day before, while we were racing, we could have been in serious trouble.

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While the Andorran capital is not the best place for a rest-day spin, at least we are staying down at 1,000m altitude. Some of the teams are staying up in the ski resorts, at 1,800m, which will make it harder for them to recover today.

Most of my day has been spent lying on my bed in the hotel room watching TV or resting. To be honest, I don’t have much energy for anything else. I’m absolutely wrecked after yesterday’s mountain stage, which coincided with the hottest day of the year in Andorra so far.

The next three days see us back in the Pyrenees again, with two tough Hors Category summit finishes on the Col du Portet and Luz-Ardiden on Wednesday and Thursday.

It’s been a brutal week since the last rest day, but there are plenty more hard days to come in this final week.

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