Sunday, July 6, 2014

Grand Depart Yorkshire TdF

I’d be lying if I said the reception here in Yorkshire for the “Grand Depart” wasn’t impressive. I’ve never seen so many people lining the road. The noise has been deafening. Most of the time I can’t even hear the guy next to me if he says something, and I definitely can’t hear anything in my radio earpiece. The crowds on the climbs have rivaled anything I’ve ever seen on TV or personally witnessed. That has come with lots of stress though too. Many times the roads have been so crowded that there is only room for one or two guys to pass. It’s really cool, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. The enthusiasm from the fans is actually a bit dangerous. They just don’t understand how fast we’re coming and how much they’re affecting the race by crowding the road. I get especially nervous for the small children that are so close to the road. I would really hate to see any of them hit by a car or rider. And maybe the worst factor of all of this is people with their phones trying to take “selfies”. They’re completely oblivious and it’s amazing more accidents haven’t happened. It’s hard to complain about such amazing support, but if I had a way to beg people to stay off the road for their safety and ours, I definitely would. Nonetheless, the experience these first two stages has been incredible.

Stage one was a unique experience with the opening ceremony involving the British royalty. Plus it was the first stage of my first Tour de France! That in itself was exciting for me! The stage was quite a treat. We were on really small roads for a lot of the stage and the stress levels were really high. I was going to try for the breakaway, but Jens beat me to the punch by jumping on the first move of the day. He did a signature Jens move by attacking his breakaway companions to assure himself the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification at the end of the day. The rest of us looked after Frank and Haimar the rest of day. There were some moments in the middle of the stage when it got very tough, but our team showed we were strong keeping everyone in the front when the field split. And to cap the day off, Fabian put in a great attack to nearly win the stage. It was a good start to the Tour for our team.

So onto today’s stage 2. I learned from Jens' example from stage 1 and jumped on the first move of the day. We were given a little leash and then managed to hold off a few more attacks from the field until our gap was solid. I’m not sure what happened behind, but I think Sky and Cannondale began pulling almost immediately and never really gave us much leash. It was silly of them to be honest. They didn’t need to keep us close and pull us back so soon in the stage, but I guess that’s how they wanted it. I had dreams of taking the polka-dot jersey, but the others were too fast in the sprints for me. I tried a couple different moves to shake my break-mates and get the points, but it wasn’t to be. Once the field caught us I fought hard to stay with them to help out, but my body was pretty spent. A little while later I was unable to follow the pace and found a group to ride to the finish with. Overall I’m happy with the effort today and this whole experience so far. It’s pretty unique! And speaking of unique, I have to tell you that there was one crazed (probably alcohol induced) fan who ran across the road COMPLETELY naked today. I think seeing that once will be quite enough for my whole career. Bedtime here. Goodnight.


Mike M said...

Appreciate these blogs! Great insight into a race team and things we just can't get from watching. Continued luck the rest of the Tour!

Anonymous said...

Hey Matthew,

Thanks for taking the time and effort to update your blog after such a hard stage.

You looked smooth and relaxed in the break.

Good luck on the cobblestones in a few days.

From your Winter hometown

Scott K said...

Matt, you got lots of camera time and comments from the broadcast guys while in the break. Fun to see the action closeup and personal. Keep up the great riding.

Cindy said...

Your presence in the break made watching the race more interesting but so nerve-wracking!
I hope you are able to do it again before le Tour is complete. Seems you and Jens did not follow the advice he gave you! Enjoy the experience!

Anonymous said...

great to see you on the break when I first turned on my TV. You look pretty snazzy on your bike. Keep it up and hope to see you finish in Paris.

Anonymous said...

It was incredible! Congrats on the move. Sandy and I were glued to our TV and yes, they had a lot of nice things to say about you. I played a clip on the PhilCast today and interviewed your dad on my show too!
Link to the podcast version posted:

Anonymous said...

Great blog keep it up. Great to hear about the TDF from a riders perspective. Good luck!