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Wheels Asia - - // nicolas portal tactician -

Por­tal says the prepa­ra­tion for the next Tour starts on the jour­ney to the fi­nal stage of the Tour that’s just com­ing to an end.

“Okay, you’re not plan­ning any­thing, re­ally, but ev­ery year, when I’m trav­el­ling to Paris for the fi­nal stage I do a quick over­view be­cause every­thing is fresh in our minds. You think about what went well, what went badly or wrong and you need to learn from. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber what we think the key fac­tors in the race were and not let them dis­ap­pear or be for­got­ten.

“When every­thing calms down a bit in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber you start think­ing prop­erly about the feed­back from the last Tour. Then, once you have the fi­nal tracks for the next race, you start cre­at­ing the new Tour plan. You try to iden­tify what the chal­lenges will be and the dif­fer­ences from the last race. Whether there are Sky’s Por­tal, Froome and Brails­ford have proven to be all but un­beat­able at the Tour more flat stages, medium moun­tains or climbs will start to have an im­pact on the rough se­lec­tion and what sort of train­ing some of the guys will be do­ing when the new sea­son starts. By De­cem­ber, 15 or 16 guys will know if they’re on the long list for the Tour.

“This year the big chal­lenges were how to man­age the Ven­toux and the Ardèche time trial on con­sec­u­tive days, and the re­ally hard fi­nal week where there was not one easy day. Ob­vi­ously we didn’t want to be chas­ing time in the fi­nal week so we needed to be good in the be­gin­ning and still fresh enough in the third week to main­tain po­si­tion.

“At home I have a look at Google Street View and know about the climb­ing, so you don’t need to drive the par­cours to know what’s com­ing. When I have the GPX tracks from ASO I con­vert every­thing into an­other pro­gramme and I can start to study the course.”

“I try to visit as many stages as pos­si­ble. Af­ter the Dubai Tour I flew into Brus­sels and drove a team car to Nor­mandy to check out the two open­ing stages”

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