Tuesday 23 October 2018

Tour of Poland diary: 'Unable to eat, I was in a dreadful state'

Monday, August 6, Stage 3: Stadion Slaski to Zabrze (179km)

Nicolas Roche. Photo: Stephen McMahon/SPORTSFILE
Nicolas Roche. Photo: Stephen McMahon/SPORTSFILE

Nicolas Roche

Having spent the night before in the bathroom with a stomach bug and yesterday's stage unable to eat and barely able to drink, I was in a dreadful state by the time I got to the team bus after the stage.

Still suffering cramps, I made a beeline for the toilet immediately after finishing and then spent the journey to our hotel sprawled out on the bus.

We were only staying 5km away and the rest of the guys had ridden to their accommodation.

We've been in the same hotel for three nights now, which meant that at least I didn't have to unpack my bags before stumbling into the shower.

Exhausted, I then flaked out on the massage table before heading down for 'dinner' with the rest of the lads.

Usually the dinner table is a place for a bit of a chat and a laugh but last night I didn't have the energy to do anything other than yawn in between forcing a bit of plain rice and water down me before heading to bed.

Back in the room, I was going to watch a movie but was so tired I didn't bother and fell asleep at around 10.15.

Contagious

Although we're almost certain that it's just a stomach bug and isn't contagious, I was quarantined in a room of my own last night which at least meant I wasn't waking up a team-mate with my midnight runs to the bathroom as my stomach continued to cramp and churn.

Normally up around 7.0 every morning, I didn't wake up this morning until 10.0 - the longest sleep I have had in years.

I'm usually first one down for breakfast and like an early start to the day's racing but today I was quite happy that we didn't have to line up until 3.30.

Although I felt a little better by the time I got up, I had a very light breakfast - after which I went back to the room and conked out for another hour - the late start giving me more time to recover and hope that things would settle down another bit.

For lunch I just had plain rice again, which seems to be the only thing I can keep down at the moment, and shortly afterwards we headed to the start.

Another flat stage today meant everyone expected a bunch sprint finish so the goal for us at BMC, especially last year's winner Dylan Teuns, was to just conserve energy and try and get to the finish without losing time.

While my legs were still pretty weak today, they were a bit better than yesterday and I didn't have the day-long stomach ache that accompanied yesterday's racing.

Still though, I found I couldn't eat on the bike and spent the day sipping water to try and stay hydrated.

As we were on a loop for a lot of the day, we had the second team car on the side of the road handing up bottles and food which saved me having to go back to the car.

I was able to ride a bit more towards the front in the early part of the stage, but in the last few kilometres I just drifted down the back as the sprint finale approached and finished mid-peloton as Alvaro Hodeg of Quickstep took the stage win.

At least today there was some signs of improvement.

If I keep getting better and can eat properly this evening then hopefully tomorrow will be the last day of it and I can try and pull something out of the bag in the latter part of the race.

I've worked really hard and put so much effort into getting here in good condition that, while I've obviously lost any hope of doing anything in the overall classification, I'd really like to give it a go on one of the stages.

Historically, August is the month where I go best each season.

Every year I've gone well, got results in August.

I was prepared, motivated and ready for this Tour of Poland so to finish last and lose seven minutes on day two was a bit of a mental blow.

With the sprint days over, the real racing begins now.

Containing four first-category climbs, I think tomorrow's opening mountain stage is going to be the hardest day of this race.

It probably comes one day too early for me but I'll just have to get on with it.

Irish Independent

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