Julian Dean Diary
2008 Tour de France - Stages 7 & 8: Battling
The last three days have been nothing but a battle for me. It started with the first of the hillier stages, stage 7. It wasn't a hard stage and although I got through it ok, it was more due to my wisdom and experience than great legs; by being at the right place at the right time when it started splitting up in the crosswinds. Then, when we finally arrived at the harder climbs, I had saved enough energy to get by ok. All the same, I suffered a lot during the stage and more times than I would care to mention, I wanted to sit up and let the wheel go. I knew that I would pay for it later if I did so I had to just grit my teeth and bare the pain and suffering. It was horrible.
Stage 8 into Toulouse was another misery. It rained pretty much the whole day and once again from the start, it was bananas with every man and his dog trying to get in the break. The orders had been given from Director Whitey, for us all to get into it and try and get up the road. Me included. I tried my luck 20 km in and was away for a few k's in a group of 10 before we got reeled in. Just as we got reeled in, I punctured and watched the peloton disappear at 65km/hr away from me. I changed my wheel and then proceeded to get back in the race. The commissaires have been awful here with regard to crashes and punctures. Typically it's the UCI who runs the race but one of the fall outs between the ASO and the UCI has meant that this year the UCI is having nothing to do with the Tour de France so the commissaires are from the French Federation. These blokes are being more than unreasonable when it comes to any rider getting helped back to the peloton after mechanical mishaps or crashes. As soon as you tuck in behind the car for a free ride, they do their balls at ya.
The truth is that no-one would be able to get back to the peloton without help when the bunch is doing over 65km/hr. Anyway, after fighting for a bit and losing more ground, Whitey eventually found a moment to help me back to the cars. I then looped through all the team cars to make it to the back of the peloton just in time for the cat 3 climb, which I started at the back and already in the red. This sent me deeper into the hurt bag and I was dropped again up the 5km climb. Thankfully, a few k down the road, it eased up and I was able to come back. I really thought though that I was 'a la casa' there for a while.
After all this, it then started to get cold and rain. I was hating the day as nothing was working out. The break had gone but it was only a few riders, I was fisted and struggling and it looked like it was going to be a sprint. It all came back together as the rain continued to come down in sheets as we headed into Toulouse. I still wasn't good and botched up the sprint. I just wasn't strong enough, after my day of suffering, to get to the front and get a good position. I just had nothing when I needed it. I could only pull in a 19th place. Gutted.
I'm frustrated as this is the first time that I've been able to come to the Tour with chances for myself and it seems that my form is shit and I can't get out of my own way. I'm certainly not as good as I've been here other years where I have been able to dominate the sprints when setting Thor up. I can only hope that it will get better. It's hard times mentally though for me right now. I have felt like giving up since the poor finish in today's stage...
Team Garmin-Chipotle presented by H3O
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