But for the amateur cyclist, the idea of racing again only 6 days after the Tour de France may seem crazy. Most of the weekend warriors will enjoy a nice relaxing sit down with a cold drink after a hard days riding. The more serious rider may do a little bit of stretching to warm down shortly followed by a recovery shake. But to ride the day after one of the most grueling races in the world is alien to most of us. However, for the professional cyclist this is business as usual. Many of the French riders who finish the Tour de France actually take part in a post Tour crit at Lisieux. For a professional cyclist this is part of the job, so preparing for the Olympic road race only six days after the finish of the Tour may not be as punishing as viewed by the untrained eye.
After the last of the champagne had run dry in Paris on Sunday night, and the bikes had been packed away, many of the riders caught flights to the UK in order to start preparation for the Olympics. For some riders the Olympics is merely an extension of the Tour with riders beds being flown over from French hotels. Recovery is very important during the Tour and several riders transported their own beds round France throughout July in order to ensure the best night’s sleep.
The main efforts of the next week will involve carefully managing recovery from the Tour, plus trying to maintain fitness gained from 3 weeks of racing in France.
Sky rider Bradley Wiggins is quoted as saying: “An Olympic athlete can’t envisage doing the Tour de France 10 days before the biggest race of their life, a marathon or whatever, but racing is what we do, and we do so many during the year that having nine days between the Tour and the time trial is like having a holiday”. This shows that racing so soon after the Tour de France isn’t such a daunting task for the modern professional cyclist.
Wiggins travelled back to his home in Lancashire on Sunday night from Paris. The Sky rider felt that it was important to spend time with his family in between the Tour and the Olympics, having only spent 5 weeks in total at home throughout the year. While at home, Bradley was spotted going for a light spin just to keep the legs turning. He also was seen taking his son to rugby training at Wigan Warriors training ground. Some may not realise but Bradley is a big rugby league fan! He then joined up with the rest of the GB cycling camp which are based in Surrey on Wednesday morning ahead of Saturday’s Olympic road race.
There he will be based with Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome who were out early on Monday for a gentle training ride after traveling straight to the training camp from Paris. Also based there is Brailsford and the rest of the Team GB cycling staff, including Rod Ellingworth, the Team Sky and Team GB road coach has been tasked with making sure the British riders are fully recovered before the weekend’s race.
One of the main issue for some rider’s from the Tour will be getting over injuries they sustained from crashing during the TdF. The Tour for Ryder Hesjedal ended prematurely after a collision with a fellow rider in the 6th stage. The Canadian rider, who won the Giro earlier in the year, flew back to his home in Spain to recover for the Olympics. For many, recovery from a crash may involve putting your feet up for a few days, but for Ryder he was back on the bike after a travel day. “Kind of the worst thing you can do is stop completely for a few days and let the leg seize up,” Ryder commented in a recent interview. The Canadian rider kept adding to the time spent on the bike, from one hour a day on the trainer, then two hours on the road, eventually moving on to three then four. However, as his legs began to loosen, other areas of pain became apparent with spasms also a real problem. But Hesjedal has recovered almost completely and is set to race in Saturday’s road race.
As the tension builds for the weekend of racing, what are your predictions? Can Mark Cavendish and team GB replicate the Manx Missile’s success seen on the Champs Elysees, or will a rider who hasn’t taken part in the Tour snatch victory from the grasp of the Sky rider. Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below.