Luke Durbridge Tour de France column: A little taste of Belgium

Yes, I did struggle a little to tell the Yateses apart on the first stage

The Tour de France is not like any other race. We come in Wednesday night and you just write off the next two days. It’s all team presentations, briefs about what we’re going to do and press conferences.

I 100 per cent want to just start the bike racing. You do so little riding you just want to get going.

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I do enjoy the team presentation though. The Belgians do a good job of putting on bike races in general but this year’s Tour team presentation really was like a Tour of Flanders start as we rolled into the big square. Especially for me because I love being in Belgium and doing the Classics but this spring I crashed out early.

During the Classics I rent a house in Ghent for a month with EF’s Mitch Docker. We get into the Classics vibe. It really is like September in Australia with the AFL Grand Final weekend where everyone is excited about the big race. I only had it for 10 days this year before I had to go home. So it was great to get a taste of that at the Tour.

Now I can settle into doing my job of protecting Adam Yates. In the Tour that’s not always easy as when you’ve got 20 teams fighting to be at the front and there’s one car width of road and everyone is really strong – it’s pretty bloody stressful. You can’t lose concentration all day.

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The Tour isn’t the hardest, power-wise, I’d probably say the Giro is a bit harder, but with the mental stress you finish a stage completely empty because you can never switch off.

Yes, I did struggle a little to tell the Yateses apart on the first stage, Adam has red shoes and that helps but also Adam rides a little bit more upright and pops his head up a bit more – that may sound a bit particular but when you ride with someone a lot you do notice these things.

Also, Simon’s main reason to be here is to be there for Adam in the third week. So if Simon is in my wheel with 3km to go in a sprint stage then he is in the wrong position. I’m fairly safe in assuming that if there is one Yates in my wheel then it’ll be Adam.

Australian Luke Durbridge is riding the Tour de France for Mitchelton-Scott. Read his dispatches from the 2019 Tour in Cycling Weekly, on sale in newsagents and supermarkets, priced £3.25.