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'The first thing I did was check how Donegal got on'


Philip Deignan in action

Philip Deignan in action


Philip Deignan in action

After the cold of yesterday's ninth stage, it was nice to be able to jump into a hot shower on the bus ahead of our drive to the next hotel. On previous teams, I was often handed a ham sandwich to eat on a long transfer like yesterday.

At Team Sky though, the team chef had a selection of food, including freshly cooked rice, potatoes, chicken and tuna prepared for our three-hour journey.

One of the first things I did on the bus was check the internet to see how Donegal had got on in the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, and was pleasantly surprised to see they had won. Growing up in Letterkenny, my dad used to be a manager at the team's sponsors, Donegal Creameries, for a few years and I spent a lot of my youth delivering milk and going to Donegal matches before I got serious about the bike.

Now that I'm away so much, I don't get to see them play at all but I try to keep up with the results whenever I can and it was nice to hear the good news yesterday.

We didn't get to our hotel until 10.0 last night so after a quick bite to eat and massage it was around midnight before I got to bed.

Thankfully today's rest day meant that I could sleep in until 9.30 and it was a really nice feeling to wake up this morning knowing that I didn't have to race my bike.

Sometimes if you look at a Grand Tour as a three week race it can be a bit overwhelming, so, in my head, I try and break it into three separate races, splitting it at the two rest days at the start of the second and third weeks.

This second part is always the hardest part of any Grand Tour for me. After nine days of racing, you're already quite tired and the thoughts of still having two weeks left can be quite hard psychologically.

Although we didn't have to race today we all knew we had to train this morning, or at least keep our legs ticking over to remind our bodies that the race isn't over yet.

While Chris Froome, Mikel Nieve and Vasil Kiryienka's put their time-trial bikes on the roof of the team car and drove to recon tomorrow's time trial stage, the rest of us hit the local roads.

When we went outside, we were greeted by a group of local cyclists who had gathered outside the hotel to follow us on our training ride.

Hoping to test us on their terrain, they wanted to bring us over some of the big local climbs but all we were interested in was a pan flat route which included the now almost obligatory rest day coffee stop.

Much to the dismay of the local amateurs, we spent a relaxing 40km spinning the legs at an easy tempo in the sun this morning.

Back at the hotel, we got changed and had lunch before our daily massage.

At most teams, you're lucky to get a half an hour massage after a stage but at Sky, we have a carer for every two riders and get an hour on the table every day, which makes a huge difference over the course of a three week race.

Although tomorrow's individual time trial is going to be very important for the GC contenders, for me it's just another day to get through while trying to conserve energy to help Chris in the latter part of this Vuelta.

On paper, Chris is the strongest time triallist of all of the GC contenders and I'd be surprised if he's not in the red jersey of race leader afterwards.

Vuelta a Espana, Live, Eurosport 2 & TG4, 3.00pm

Irish Independent