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PAU, France (VN) — The road to Bagneres-de-Luchon was Tejay van Garderen’s undoing in the 2014 Tour de France, the day he lost nearly four minutes and any hope of a podium to eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). It was the day after a rest day.
Heading into the Tour’s first major climb, a hors categorie, 15km ride up to La Pierre-St Martin, again the day after a rest day, van Garderen wants to avoid a repeat poor performance.
“Some people have difficulties with rest days, and especially with the first mountain stage coming up you never really now how your body is going to respond,” he said in a press conference held Monday. “Its important to get out and ride and follow the same routine as a normal days’ racing.”
Rest days disrupt the Tour’s rhythm of pain and pressure, a rhythm each rider has become accustomed to. It brings press obligations, fan signings, and a dramatic change in schedule. The deviations from the Tour norm can cause un jour sans, the dreaded ‘day without’.
The BMC rider made mistakes on the second rest day last year, he said, leading to bad legs on the road to Luchon. This year, he changed his rest day protocol to make sure the same doesn’t happen on Tuesday, or following the second rest day on the road to Pra Loup, the finish of stage 17.
Last year van Garderen’s rest day ride was too hard, he said, and he didn’t eat enough afterward. This year, his rest day ride was shortened, and doctors are keeping a close eye on his food and liquid intake.
“I’m just having three square meals and did a little easier ride. That’s about it. It’s not rocket science, I just miscalcualted a little bit [last year],” he said. “Speaking with my coach and the doctors and making sure to monitor the weight and the fluid intake and make sure everything is topped up without going overboard.”
“I’m rested and relaxed and confident for tomorrow,” he said.