British rider Dan McLay has admitted that he didn’t think he would beat the time cut on stage 15 of the Tour de France – and he doesn’t know how he’ll fare in the Alps this week.
The Fortuneo-Oscaro sprinter finished over 38 minutes behind race winner Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) in Le Puy-en-Velay, and on stage 16 was dead last yet again.
He is the current lanterne rouge, three hours and 50 minutes behind race leader Chris Froome, with fellow Brit Luke Rowe (Team Sky) the next worst placed rider, 18 minutes ahead of him.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly before stage 16, McLay said that he is dealing with illness: “I’m struggling a little bit. I feel like I am getting a little bit sick right now but I will try and make it through. I just a feel a bit knackered, to be honest.”
With the Alps coming up in the next two stages, McLay appreciates that he could be fighting off the chasing broom wagon yet again, a situation he has found himself in in each of the last two days of racing.
“I struggle anywhere when it goes up hill and I think not feeling 100 per cent, it makes it a little harder.
“Days in the mountains are harder for me. It’s a bit stressed at the end of a sprint day, but at least you’re racing for something. These days are long days in your head.
“I can’t tell you how I’ll ride [in the Alps]. I don’t know the answers.”
Watch: Tour de France stage 16 highlights
After stage 15, the Leicestershire-raised 25-year-old, who finished third on a stage of the 2016 Tour, got straight on the team bus without talking to journalists such was his tiredness.
Reflecting on his solo ride through the Massif Central, he said: “It was a long day mentally and I was on my own since the first climb of the day.
“I just kept riding and to be honest I thought I wouldn’t make it [the time cut] but thankfully I did.”
At the start of stage 16, McLay was presented with a red lantern by a Belgian journalist, a gift which the Brit didn’t appreciate. But he said: “I’d rather be last than not here.”
For now, McLay remains in the Tour.