What was the greatest surprise the race had in store for you? What weren’t you expecting? Did you manage to surprise yourself, somehow, and how did it feel like?
The first thing that caught me by surprise was the sheer number of riders at the start, which was somewhere around 16,000. Luckily, I started in the first wave, around 400th place, so I managed to get to the front part right off the bat. I was taken aback by the hot pace during the first flat kilometres, which averaged around 50 km/h. As a next thing, I was surprised by the descents off all three passes, which were much more challenging for me than ascents. I’m from Prague, so I’m missing a long-term experience with winding complicated slope descents. I could see that I was losing big time there, compared to others. What I liked very much about the race was that because of all the banners at the start, the finish, and over the overall course, it really felt like how I perceive the Tour de France on TV. All was intensified by supporting service motorcycles and countless helicopters. The only improvement I would see in the quality of refreshment stations scattered along the course. At such a prominent event, one would expect somebody handing him a filled bidon, so you wouldn’t have to get off the bike and lose pace. Something that is very common at all domestic races. Retrospectively, after a few days, I was sitting at home by the TV and I was fascinated by the speed with which the pros tackle the course during the Tour de France.