With the first mountain stage of the Tour looming in two days, Team Sky head of performance Tim Kerrison reckons that the boys in blue and black are all set for the mountains.
To be honest, there would have been no excuse for any team or riders caught out by the expected crosswinds on stage six between Aix-en-Provence and Montpelier.
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With social media pundits rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the race exploding into fragments on the flat salt-marsh plains, the team managers knew what to tell the troops. Apart from one rather breezy section after the feed zone, the wind was more of a zephyr than a hurricane and the stage was effectively neutralised.
Essentially, the Mistral was taking a day off or at least, not really trying too hard. Inside 20km to go, Sky and the Dutch Belkin team made sure they were at the front in numbers, taking no chances.
It was almost as though the teams had decided that the wind wasn’t strong enough to really cause any real damage and decided either not to take the chance or that it wasn’t worth using up precious energy for the gain of a few seconds. In two days time, in the Pyrenees, it would all be different and the skirmishing and grappling for a few seconds would be rendered irrelevant.
Tim Kerrison, the Team Sky head of performance and coach to Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte, wasn’t too worried about the state of readiness of his riders or the team as the Pyrenees loomed.
Astonishing as it may seem, if the opening week of the Tour is ‘easy,’ then there is a real possibility that riders can actually lose form. How had Kerrison judged the opening six stage?
“It is true that if the first week or run up to the first mountains is easy – relatively speaking – then riders can actually start to lose form. When you look back at the opening week of the 2011 Tour, the one Brad crashed in, then we could see that happening with some riders. But that’s not going to be the case this year though,” smiled Kerrison in the shadow of the Sky bus.
“The stages in Corsica were quite hard and, as usual at the Tour, very stressful for the riders but, more than that, this is the first time all year that the team has really had to race in the heat (it was 33 degrees in Montpelier – Ed.) which adds to the difficulty of the race and is something some riders find hard to cope with – learning to cope with heat is one of the reasons we do training camps in Tenerife.”
With the first mountain stage in the Pyrenees on Saturday, was he happy with what he had seen so far? “Oh I don’t think they are going to go into the mountains needing to worry about any detraining effect this year,” laughed Kerrison.