And what a transition it has been. Having boarded the overnight ferry from Bastia and embraced the Euro disco in the hull, we arrived in Nice at 7.30am for the team time trial. Like any hard working sailor I was met by my beautiful woman on the quayside. Em made the trip out on Monday night and we had a good day on the beach once the TTT had been seen off on Tuesday. Speedy it wasn't due to traffic and lights, but nonetheless the 25km stage was completed.
The next day was rather epic. 141 miles over rolling terrain in the heat and Mistral winds from Nice to Marseille. One of our mechanics, Pete, lives in a village, Lourges, which lies on the route of stage 5. Pete organised his local velo club to come ride the route with us, whilst their wives prepared a fantastic lunch in the village square. Three highlights for me included practising my pigeon French on the local riders in the peleton, many of whom couldn't understand a word I said, meeting the Mayor of Lourges and making the local press, and the Madames' home made quiche Lorraine. Despite eight hours in the saddle, it was a wonderful day and topped off by Lourges Velo Club's donation of 300 Euros to the WWMT at dinner. The Tour de Force at its best.
Today started with a 5.30am rise before transferring to Aix en Provence for the 110 mile burn up to Montpellier. Our lead rider, Phil Dekker, suggested that this flat day should be a recovery ride but the front group were having none of it. Our logic being the sooner we arrived in Montpellier, the quicker we can start to recover. Flat it may have been but the Mistral blew hard. Fortunately we had a motivated and well organised group working today, putting in big pulls at the front against the wind. Had it not been for the neutralised zone at the start, today would have been my first 100 miles under five hours. We were moving at pace and my body is starting to perform feats I did not think possible.
In general things are going well on Tour. The legs certainly feel tired after the last two days and the pace in Corsica is catching up with me. We head into the Pyrenees for the next three days before the first rest day and a transfer up to Brittany. Tomorrow is foothills with two big Pyrenean stages coming back to back the following days. I am dominating the massage table at the moment and working hard to keep eating to ensure the petrol remains topped up. Banter is at an all time high at the front and I am settling in there well. The pro tan is coming along nicely and stay tuned for pictures on the first rest day. The most difficult part is sleeping as the heart rate remains high helping the blood flush out the day's toxins. A new hotel and different roomies every night (I've lost Morten to his single supplememts) are also things to adapt to. It will come a point where the need for sleep overrides all this and a pass out ensues.
A couple of snaps to finish... Members of the Lourges Velo Club looking dubious in their questionable orange lycra, Simon aka Lars Boom looking delicious in pink ahead of the chic Nice TTT and the Colnago in all her glory on Tour...