I am writing this well in advance of Le Grand Départ but I can honestly say I have never been more excited for the Tour de France. Every edition that passes I fall more in love with the Tour and I am going back with greater optimism than ever after last year’s result.
Like every other GC rider, I’ll strike a much more relaxed pose if I navigate the first nine stages with minimal time loss. For a rider with my skillset there are a number of opportunities in the first few days though. Two short and sharp uphill finishes on stages 5 and 6 are particularly enticing, and I think it’ll be best to enter those races with a one-day Classic mindset. It’s best to be aggressive rather than try to play catch up. The Tour is the one race where teams spend a lot of resources trying not to lose, as opposed to trying to win. The dilemma is either gamble and sit back or burn your team’s energy staying right up front, hopefully out of harm’s way.
The first mountain stage to Le Grand Bornand may not seem decisive, but hitting the Alps after two weeks on relatively flat roads (we arrive in France the Tuesday before the race starts), will come as a shock. That was something I experienced on a similar route in 2015 when I lost my GC chances on the first mountain. I am yet to preview the Alps, with a recon scheduled post-Dauphiné, but stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez will be a highlight. It’s not the hardest climb and it may not be decisive, but there is nothing like the atmosphere on the 21 hairpins. The Pyrenees will make it a brutal final week. The short 65km stage to a new climb is even tougher than it looks on paper, and the Col de Portet is potentially the toughest finish I have ever done.
The final mountain stage passes some classic climbs that are rich in history, but unless somebody shows weakness, the GC fight will come in the TT. It’ll be memorable. I can’t wait to fight all the way to Paris.
After a crash hampered his 2017 Tour e fort, Dan is excited to get going at this year’s race