Saturday 24 August 2019

'Wilco opted to stop rather than do himself any more harm'

Tour de France Diary

Enjoying a coffee with my Sunweb team-mates on yesterday’s rest day
Enjoying a coffee with my Sunweb team-mates on yesterday’s rest day

Nicolas Roche

Monday, July 22 - Rest day: Nimes

After a long post-stage transfer yesterday evening, my Sunweb team didn't arrive to our hotel until 10.0 last night so we opted not to bother with massage and went straight to dinner instead.

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Usually on the eve of a rest day our team chef prepares some kind of treat for us. Last night we got a home-made burger with baked potato for mains, which probably doesn't sound much like a treat but makes a nice change from pasta and salads.

After a long day's travelling, we were expecting a nice dessert after dinner but a problem with the fridge in the team's kitchen truck meant it didn't go to plan and our faces dropped when we saw him coming with a big bowl of fruit salad.

Our expressions must have forewarned him though as he disappeared into the hotel restaurant for a few minutes before presenting us with a raspberry sponge cake, which was a bit better for morale.

I didn't sleep great last night as I've caught a cold somewhere over the past two days and was out of bed a lot to blow my nose and ease the congestion, so much so that my room-mate Lenny (Kamna) evicted me this morning.

"Nico, I think you're going to have to get a single room tonight. I just couldn't sleep."

After breakfast, we went out for a training ride to keep the legs ticking over but everyone was pretty tired so we only did an hour and spent 20 minutes having a coffee in the sun at the end.

Our Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman didn't come training with us and left the race after lunch this afternoon.

Wilco crashed on the fifth stage of the Tour of Catalunya in April, fracturing a vertebra in his neck and breaking a collarbone.

In a neck brace for five weeks, he missed the Giro d'Italia in May but was back racing at the Tour de Suisse in June but unfortunately crashed again on the very first day and hurt himself again.

Since the start of this Tour, he's been having back pain and after a very tough day in the mountains yesterday, Wilco made the decision that it was better to stop now rather than do himself any more harm.

Hopefully he will have time to recover properly now and will be able to ride the Vuelta at the end of August.

As I'm out of contract at the end of the season, I had a bit of a chat about my future with my manager Andrew McQuaid and the guys from Trinity Sports this afternoon.

After reorganising my suitcase for the rest of the race, even preparing a bag for my next race, the San Sebastian Classic, the rest of the day was spent chilling out in my room ahead of a hard final week of this Tour.

Tomorrow, the hostilities resume with what looks like a stage that suits the sprinters.

The team goal here is still to win a stage, so Michael Matthews will be up to bat first tomorrow with the rest of us trying to get up the road when we go back into the mountains on Wednesday.

Winning a stage at the Tour de France is a big challenge every year but it's not like we haven't been trying. Our team haven't missed an important break yet, but unfortunately there's always been stronger riders in those moves.

The days are running out now but we will be giving it our best shot again to pull it off.

Tour de France,

Live, TG4, 1.10/Eurosport 1, 11.45

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