On the rest day, I had my skin folds tested by team nutritionist Nigel Mitchell. The last time I did that was at the Giro. They’ve gone up. Working as a DS on a Grand Tour is not necessarily healthy.
Although almost all teams have chefs now, we team staff just eat what the hotel provides. I think that’s improved a little bit over the last couple of years. Still, it’s not always easy sitting down and salivating over what the riders are eating, knowing you’ve got some Novotel chicken coming your way.
But for me it’s the bread issue that really cracks me on the Tour. It’s baguettes for breakfast, baguettes for lunch and when you’re waiting for dinner to be served too. We measure it in centimetres. If you’re eating 80cm of bread each day, it’s bound to create a bit of a block in your stomach.
Then there’s the constant eating in the team car. Brains need sugar. And you want more when you’re nervous or bored. It has to be something convenient, something you can eat while you drive and something that won’t make a mess. So you end up eating all kinds of crap all day.
We started taking carrots in the car a few years ago, just to give us something that isn’t bread to fill up our stomachs and keep our hands occupied. That delays the onset of pringles and sweets as much as possible.
We did get to ride our bikes for two hours on the rest day. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that as a DS on the Tour.
I do try to go running every day, but it typically works out to be about five times a week. I usually go after the stage when we get back to the hotel for between 30 and 35 minutes.
Running doesn’t really come naturally to me but I’ve come to enjoy it a bit more. The first year of running was basically just painful, especially if I’d left it for 10 days or a couple of weeks between runs.
I’ve got quite into it now. As a recreational athlete, I’m everything I wasn’t as a rider. I like looking back over my training files, speed and heart rate. There’s no competitive element to it but I like comparing my times and all that.
Going running on the race, though, is as much a mental health thing as for fitness. I’m pretty careful to go on my own. The other two DSs here, Tom and Andreas, also run but I always leave them to do their own thing.
It’s really nice to get just half an hour totally on my own. If you don’t, then its only when you’re asleep that you get time to yourself. There’s so many things to do, but sometimes I think about nothing when I’m running. It’s a pretty important part of my day.
I always venture out without a plan. But I have to say, having been in these sort of hotels as a rider, even if the hotel’s on an edge of town industrial estate, it’s pretty rare you find won’t find somewhere worth going.
There’s nearly always something hiding pretty close to the hotel. Parks, forests, whatever. When you’re on the Tour, it’s good to be reminded there’s a whole real world out there.
Charly Wegelius’ Tour Blog