Dhe diary of Jonasrutsch from the Tour de France is regularly updated here. His reports are recorded by Alex Westhoff.
Tag 18: The rest day started a little differently than I had hoped. I woke up to the doping control officers knocking on my hotel room door. Above all, it was important on Monday that we were able to avoid the heat for a day. Because the temperatures are brutal. Citizens are advised to stay indoors and exert as little as possible in these temperatures and we ride a 45 average for three days during the hottest hours of the day. That is negligent in my eyes.
There are strict rules that regulate the handing over and disposal of the bottles. Points are quickly deducted in the World Cycling Federation rankings – and for many teams every point is at stake in the relegation battle. It culminates in every rider spending all day drinking whatever fluids they can get their hands on. And getting ice cream and throwing it on your neck to somehow make it to the finish.
As a helper, it’s my turn to drive from the back through the field to the front and then back again to get food. The greatest feeling is when the race stewards then open a barrage, meaning that the team vehicles have to stay behind behind the drivers who have been left behind. Then we can accept water from the neutral material truck or motorbike. You can certainly imagine that at 40 degrees Celsius, but you are not the only one with this idea. You almost fall flat on your face because everyone is fighting for the coveted bottles. What’s more: After a certain point, water no longer helps, because then you need isotonic drinks. Otherwise you’ll be completely on your knees.
In my opinion, the many falls on Sunday were mainly due to the fact that many professionals drive like they were dazed, no longer knowing where up and down is. It’s not because we can’t ride a bike, it’s because the body is reaching its limits. People practically collapsed and fell off their bikes. People have fallen because they ran over bottles in the field that fell down in the rush. You can’t look and react that quickly.
The structures that we have in cycling are not sufficient for such extreme days. Scenes like the ones we experienced are programmed there. And something needs to change very quickly. Tour organizers and the world association should come up with something. Wouldn’t it have been possible to shorten the stage on Sunday to Carcassonne a bit? I noticed it myself: at some point I got dizzy, then you don’t get everything anymore. Only, at 50 km/h in the field or 90 km/h on the descents, you have to be on your toes. That is the elementary basis of everything in our sport.
In addition, the corona virus has reached the entire peloton, and we also had the first driver in the team who tested positive, who had to retire. Many drivers are not healthy because the body is at its limit and more susceptible to infections in the third week. This becomes clear when you ask around and see how much people cough.