Well it wasn't the result we were hoping for, but it's nothing to dwell on either. It's Stage 2 and in a long race like the Tour you can't let disappointment carry forward. In the TTTs we have high expectations of ourselves and we went in believing that we had a very good chance to get a double victory - stage win and Yellow for Klodi. Even though we fell short, the team put in a very solid ride today - 10 seconds down in 6th place. Klodi, Horner, Levi and Jani are all 10 seconds down on GC, and even less on some of the favorites. So all in all, we are in good shape. As I told the guys - "Recognize and feel the disappointment and then use it for motivation. But don't dwell on the disappointment either. Yes, we could have shaved off a few seconds here and a few seconds there, but the reality is we didn't. There's not another TTT in the Tour so overanalyzing is not going to help us in the future. And if anything - overanalyzing will hurt us. The Tour is just as much mental as it is physical. So let's look ahead, stay sharp and believe that we'll have other opportunities." I always talk with each rider one-on-one after the stage (usually during their massage), which gives me the opportunity to understand each rider's feelings and tailor my response accordingly. There is no cookie cutter way to lead the riders and knowing their individual personalities and what drives each one are keys to being a good coach and leader.
Tomorrow we head into Brittany. The profile is not one of difficulty, but we'll need to be careful as we'll be close to the sea and the winds can break up the peloton (as we've seen in the past). I expect it will be somewhat of a tense day similar to Stage 1 and it'll be important that our riders remain alert and stay towards the front. Easier said than done since every team is telling their riders to stay towards the front. To be honest, it's a stage I'm not particularly fond of. A stage where you can't win the Tour, but certainly can lose time if you're not careful, alert and a bit lucky.
Unfortunately there's one other item to bring up about today's race. And it always seems to be a recurring theme. The UCI decided today (let me emphasize the word - today) that they would bring a different interpretation of a rule pertaining to the TT bike saddle position. Mind you that riders have been using this exact same position throughout the year (most recently at the Dauphiné Liberé and Tour de Suisse TT). Now imagine yourself as a rider - you have been using this position in races and training (and previously/several times the position has been approved by UCI commissaires as suitable). You then show up to the biggest race in the world and are told that the same position you have been using is now illegal!! As you can imagine, this inconsistency in rules did not sit well with mechanics, team managers and bike sponsors (who spend thousands of dollars in the wind tunnel each year), which led to an unprofessional spectacle in front of everyone to see - An embarrassment for our sport. As the UCI has a history of doing, they decided to handle the situation by fining me and Bjarne Riis 200 Swiss Francs for what they deem incorrect behavior (and what I would deem as pointing out inconsistencies in rules). Anyway, tomorrow will be another day …
Always overshadowed by the Tour de France … The Tour of Austria started today and Team RadioShack showed that the strength of our team goes beyond the nine riders at the Tour de France. Robbie Hunter won Stage 1's sprint, his 2nd victory of the season and Team RadioShack's 22nd. He holds a 4 second advantage on the GC over Chris Sutton from Sky. For me, this is not just another win for Robbie or the team. It truly demonstrates Robbie's character and professionalism. A proven Tour de France veteran, I had the tough decision a few weeks ago not to put Robbie on the Tour team. It's no secret that every rider dreams of making the Tour team so for Robbie not to line up in Vendee and instead go to Austria refocused and motivated tells me the type of rider and team player he is, especially when facing disappointment. Chapeau Robbie.
Alright, there are still some other things to do before the night is over (including calling my wife) ...
Some fun info for you. Room assignments for the first week of the Tour are as follows:
Markel & Jani
Klodi & Sergio
Haimar & Popo
Horner & Dimitriy
Follow Johan all season long on Twitter and Facebook.
Get the 2011 Tour de France calendar on your personal calendar.