12 Jul 2018

The TOURist, Simon Clarke's diary. Ep. 5

Obviously today was an important day. I personally felt in my element, being an Ardennes rider, to be told that the stage is like Mini Amstel. It’s perfect for me. I thrive in those one day races. Of course it was a challenge. It was tricky, technical roads, a lot of climbs and tricky sections but being used to racing in these conditions, we had everything under control all day. 

I need to give a special shout to Scully and Sep Vanmarcke, who did a superb job guiding Rigo while the rest of us just followed in support and then gave Rigo a hand in the final. The major work was done by Scully and Vanmarcke. It was special to see them working so well. 

Everyone committed to the plan today. Even Lawson, he’s feeling better and he came to me and asked to contribute today. He said he was feeling good, and I told him to feel good for a day and then we’ll see what tomorrow brings. He’s definitely on the up. He was able to ride out of the seat for the first time today since his crash, so he’s making some great progress. I’m sure we’ll see him contributing to the team more in the next couple days. 

I haven’t looked at tomorrow’s stage yet. I’m trying to take it day-by-day, but yeah, you could have called today Mini Amstel. I really enjoyed it. It was tough and technical, but the Tour de France is tough. They don’t make it easy. 

It was a good day. We didn’t have any setbacks. We rode in good position all day. We had some great team support. We had 14 spots with extra bidons on the course today, which really made a huge difference. We can’t thank the staff enough, all the extra staff, who were out on course to provide that extra support for us on a day that had such narrow roads and it wasn’t possible to go back to the car without wasting so much energy, precious energy we needed to save to help support Rigo. That was a very appreciated effort that had a big impact. 

I think tomorrow’s stage is more a technical final not so much technical all day like today was. We’ll see. I need to look at the book but we’ll see what happens with that. 

Obviously these days are different from the sprint days but for the characteristics of Rigo and myself, they’re better for us. A lot of teams may be dreading these days, but we’ve been looking forward to these stages – today and tomorrow. They’re much more up my alley and terrain where I can be even more influential in supporting Rigo. 

Credits photos: @Gruber