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By Magnus Bäckstedt, Liquigas-Bianchi professional cycling team
Today was one of those days that you just put your head down, ride and wait for the finish.
It’s not that this stage was so hard, it’s that I suffered so much yesterday that I am still trying to recover.
To start, I came down on the descent of the Col de la Madeleine and then spent the rest of the day hurting. I was on my own, just trying to get back on to the grupetto and I locked up my front wheel in a corner and landed on my back.
You may remember last year that, after the highlight of winning at Roubaix, a lot of my problems later in the season revolved around my back. As it turned out, those back problems were really caused by muscles that had atrophied after another crash. It was those “core” muscles – abdominals and lower back muscles – that had weakened after a crash and that eventually affected my back. This won’t be the same thing. I’ve learned a lot about muscles structure in the past year, I can guarantee. I’m also a lot more conscious of such things, but it’s no fun crashing no matter how thoughtful you are about the recovery.
Anyway, that’s life. I struggled for the rest of the day on Wednesday and then today did my best to settle in for the ride to Digne-les-Bains.
I knew it would be a problem, because I had a really bad sleep Wednesday night and, being Bastille Day, there would be attacks from the start. Sure enough, the start was quite fast and the beginning had its share of hills. They were really pounding for that first hour – hitting 70kph in the flats for a while there. I got dropped on the first climb, but managed to get back on, just as the pace eased off.
Now, I’m just really tired and will, hopefully, get a good night’s sleep.