'For Geraint to win stage one was just so special — he’s a close mate and made history by being the first Welshman to wear the yellow jersey'
Welshman Luke Rowe is part of Team Sky’s Tour de France squad in support of Chris Froome, and he writes exclusively each week for Cycling Weekly.
In a nutshell, it was a dream opening Tour de France weekend for Team Sky last week. To start the opening weekend with four guys in the top eight put us on the front foot straight away.
I think there was no real pressure on G [Geraint Thomas] going into the race. The Giro d’Italia was a big hit-out for him so he was heading into the unknown here to see what he could do. For him to win stage one was just so special; he’s a close mate and made history by being the first Welshman to ever wear the yellow jersey in the Tour.
He’s been on cloud nine. The phrase ‘he deserves it’ is overused a lot of the time, but in this case it’s true. He’s a reliable guy and with the amount of Tours he’s ridden for others, it’s nice to see him get that bit of glory.
After stage one we were leading the team classification, had G in yellow and Vasil Kiryienka in green, and had so many cuddly toy prizes the team bus has turned into a zoo. There’s been wild animals all over the place — we’ve had to try and keep them all under control! I always take mine back and give them to my dog; he looks after them for a while then chews them to bits.
The atmosphere has been electric so far among the staff and the riders, but it’s a very long way to Paris and we know we’ve got a big job ahead of us. The Tour hasn’t really started yet, and there’s a big task in hand, but the way the team is riding we can take positivity.
This is my third Tour but it’s definitely been the least stressful first few days from recent years. There seems to be a lot more respect in the peloton from riders which is really nice to see; it’s a breath of fresh air, to be honest.
It’s still really hectic and there’s still a fight for position at the front and it still feels nervous, but it doesn’t seem like there are so many ‘headless chicken’ type of riders.
I think it’ll remain nervous among the peloton until stage five, the first GC day. It always calms down a little bit after that; there’s then a kind of pecking order and everyone knows where they are to a certain extent.