13 Juli 2018
The TOURist, Simon Clarke's diary. Ep. 6
I’m not too worried about a couple of seconds Rigo lost today. It all came down to positioning in the sprint on the final climb. When we know how many big climbs there are to come, a couple seconds will be irrelevant.
Obviously we never choose to give up time, but it’s no worries. The important thing is not to lose big time. The big losers today were Dumoulin and to an extent Bardet, who both had wheel issues in the final that caused them to lose time.
The win, racing east west with the northerly wind, was always going to be a potential hazard but we had really good information from the team about the conditions up the road from Andreas Klier, so we were ready for the action QuickStep did. We were ready to go when they did that. We knew it was a danger spot.
When the bunch split, we had the whole team in the front group except for Lawson. All seven us were there. If Lawson were good, he would have been there, too. I think it’s fair to say the whole team was in the front, and it was the perfect situation. We made sure everything was under control, like we do each day.
There weren’t too many decisions to be made out on the road today. The key today with the wind danger was to listen to all the information Charly Wegelius was relaying to us over the radio, which he was being provided by Andreas, who was doing avant course. That information was really valuable. It proved very handy both with narrow passages in town, narrow bridges, to open and exposed crosswinds. That was information that made our jobs today a lot easier.
For me today was a good day. We passed the road captain responsibility over to Sep and he really took care of the guys and the situation right up until we hit Mur de Bretagne the first time and the team asked me to save myself for that final finishing circuit. It was really important to make sure Rigo was delivered at least to the bottom of the last climb, at 2km to go, for the final.
Sep definitely gets the tip of the hat today. He had the boys all lined up in the crosswind there, had everyone in the front, did a great job and really took a lot of pressure off me so I could focus in the final and make sure Rigo was covered all the way to the line.
It was a straightforward day – still narrow roads, technical roads, but as far as the Tour goes, it wasn’t a complicated stage. That last 20km there looping around the Mûr de Bretagne, could have been harder but the stiff headwind really slowed the pace down and nullified a lot of the stress that we would have possibly had with a different wind direction.