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Rough And Tumble

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Photographs: Offside-LeEquipe

My objective was to go full gas on The Tumble to try and get a good GC position. There were a lot of 1s dropped before me, and I limited the gap to the rest. I’m pretty pleased; I tried to catch up with the Wiggins group, there was only 15 seconds between us. I found myself alone and between the two groups [Chavanel finished eleventh, 32 seconds down on Zardini].
I’d like to challenge for a stage to gain a few seconds back on the overall, and afterwards there’s the time-trial [in London]: Bradley Wiggins is, of course, strong there but I can still get a high finish in the GC. I think Wiggins is the favourite now.
I haven’t had the time to catch up with [old team-mate] Bradley. This race moves at a fair rate, you know? We don’t talk too much during the stages, because we’re focusing and it’s going hard. 
It’s my first time doing the Tour of Britain, it’s a nice race, well organised and we’ve been lucky to have sunshine so far too. Apart from London, I really didn’t know Britain very well before. I’m discovering the country and finding it really beautiful. The scenery in recent days has been a bit like Normandy: very green, lots of short climbs with tough gradients.
As for riding on the other side of the road, it’s always strange taking the musette in the left hand through the feed zone.
I’ve no regrets about my season so far, I’ve given my all. I had a few health problems at the start of the year, respiratory issues, so I didn’t do Paris-Roubaix. I had a few podiums at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Tour of Belgium, then won the French time-trial title.
But maybe I rode too hard before the Tour de France, I needed to go into it fresher. Still, there weren’t a lot of stages suited to baroudeurs this year, compared to the climbers.
Tomorrow’s stage [to Bristol] could be important, the finish is uphill, albeit less tough than today. There could be a little group sprint or some attacks in the finale. I’ll be vigilant, you never know what could happen.

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