In His Own Words: Brett Lancaster on Tour de France Week 1

Sun 5 Aug 2012

The stage nine time trial provided the predicted general classification drama at the Tour de France today. Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) won the stage to further build his lead over Cadel Evans (BMC) in the general classification. The Brit now leads the defending champion by 1:53 heading into the first rest day.

As Sports Director Matt White revealed yesterday, without a pure time trialist or a general contender, none of the ORICA-GreenEDGE riders planned to ride full gas over the 41.5 kilometer course – and none did. As a result, we’ve decided to leave the Backstage Pass to capture our time trial. Instead of a traditional race report, we’ve spoken to Brett Lancaster about his thoughts on the opening week of the Tour. Here’s what he had to say, in his own words.

I can tell you one thing. We’re quite lucky to still have nine riders here. Most teams were impacted by the first week crashes. There were so many of them. It was a dangerous opening week with nervous riders and nervous teams.

Everyone wants to win a stage. I think that’s part of it. If you get a stage win, that takes the pressure off for the next two weeks.

Like most teams, we’re still needing that stage win. We’re fully committed to the goal. The riders, the staff and the management have worked together, and we’ve come away with one of the best first weeks of the Tour de France that I’ve ever had – but without the win. Things are going well, and I know we’re knocking on the door.

It’s special to be one of five Aussies on the first Australian WorldTour team at its first Tour de France. While we have international riders amongst us, they all speak fluent English, and they fit in with the Aussie culture. We joke around at dinner. It’s a fun group.

Despite the fun, the first week is stressful. That goes for everybody. No team can tell you otherwise. Our days are busy. We prepare for the stage in the morning with a big breakfast. 

We have a great chef here to handle our meals. He makes us a good breakfast every morning. After breakfast, we head to the bus. En route to the stage start, we talk about the race. We review our plans for the day.

We talk about the stage after the race, too. We have individual meetings to review our performance. It’s like a mini-assessment. We talk about what we did right and where we need to do things better. Following our transfer, we’re back at the hotel for a massage. At that point, there’s probably only two or three hours left before bed. We eat dinner and have some time alone. It’s a pretty full on day.

The sprint train. You’re all wondering about our sprint train, right? Listen, we haven’t quite gotten it exactly right yet. We know that. We’ve been doing the right sort of watts if you want to look at scientifically – which the team does. Our trainer Marc Quod reviews our power data daily. It’s not for lack of form or fitness that we haven’t yet gotten that stage win. It’s something else.

We haven’t nailed the run up to the sprint yet. I can’t really be more specific than that. It’s not for lack of talent or effort on the parts of the rider or the staff. It’s coming soon, I think. Fingers crossed. We’re giving it everything we have, and we remain confident that the stage win is within reach.

I’m not ready to talk about not getting that stage win yet. We’re not there – but I can tell you this. We’ve gone into the biggest race in the world with an impressive set up. Everything about this team is professional. No matter how things play out for us, we’re going to leave this race proud of what we accomplished and eager to move forward. This is our first year as a WorldTour team, and I know we’ve already exceeded expectations in many ways. I’m proud to be part of team that’s showing the rest of the world what Aussies can do.

Right now, I’m looking forward to a recovery day tomorrow. We hit the jackpot with a beautiful hotel here for the rest day, and I’m eager to settle in for a good night’s sleep.