25 Lug 2018
The TOURist, Simon Clarke's diary. Ep. 10
Since Rigo left the race, it’s been our objective to chase breakaways every day. Today was no different, particularly knowing that today was a really good chance for the breakaway to stay away, which it did.
The goal today was to have Pierre in the break, since he’s our best climber, seeing that the final climbs that we had to tackle for the day, he’d be the best guy for the break.
Obviously when it takes 100km for the break to get away, it’s not an easy task to get exactly who you need up the road. We took a lot of turns. In the end, it was a massive 50 rider group, and I was able to make it in there, which was good for the team, good to be present but still not ideal. We really needed our climber in the break today, which we weren’t able to do.
The neutralisation was an unfortunate incident where the police needed to use some pepper spray to control some protesters who had blocked the road. They used it as we were riding by. Although it was obviously not directed at us, the wind then blew it back across the road and quite a lot of riders in the bunch were impacted, including myself. It was just an unfortunate and unpredictable turn of events. ASO did a great job of stopping the race immediately, making sure everyone was ok, we had good instructions from the race doctors, who informed us the effects would pass within 20 minute, so we basically remained stopped and even re-started under neutralized circumstances until all the side effects had passed. They handled that really well.
It was a 50 rider breakaway. That's always going to be tricky to handle. Not very much control. Plus I was already quite tired, having gone with a lot of attacks in the first 100km to make it into the breakaway. It was always going to be a tough ask.
Tomorrow is going to be a super tough day. It was already a tough day on the cards and now, taking into consideration the stage we had today and how tough today was and how hard we raced it, tomorrow is going to be even tougher. It’s going to be quite interesting the new style of start that we haven't seen before in professional cycling. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. At the end of the day, we need to have our climbing legs on. It’s going to be a time trial from start to finish.