Bernaudeau: We've rediscovered our smile
On the Tour's first rest day, Jean-Rene Bernaudeau looks back over the first 10 days of racing.
After a tricky opening phase, the Europcar team manager remains confident ahead of the Alps and the Pyrenees.
Pierre Rolland finished quite far off the pace in the time trial on Monday. What are your feelings about this?
JRB: Yes, he finished far back. But at the same time we feel relieved. Two days ago, I was quite frankly very anxious. We didn't know where we stood with both Thomas (Voeckler) and Pierre. Today, the smile is back on my face. I have been reassured about the fitness of my two main riders. Pierre may have lost more than five minutes on the time trial but he was not at his physical best and he also had a mechanical problem.
How do you sum up the opening week or so of racing?
JRB: The Tour got off for a catastrophic start for us because Thomas only had one functioning leg and Pierre crashed and we feared he had broken something. Today, we're on the brink of the Alps and we have the chance to make the world talk about us once again. If Thomas has no more problems, he will go on the attack, for sure. So yes, we have rediscovered our smile. So far we have been part of some beautiful breakaways and, despite all the crashes, we have come out the other side more or less intact. Today I am very optimistic.
Your riders certainly made an effort to get seen during the opening 10 days...
JRB: I am happy with the squad. This past week, we were part of all the breaks with the exception of one. We're having a say on the race. The Tour de France gathers the world's best riders in one place. I am very happy with my selection and our riders are an honour to the team.
At what state do you start the Alps?
JRB: We start the Alps with Pierre and Thomas in better health than a few days ago. We will see how the race unravels. We're entering the mountains and the race is about to enter into a fierce battle. Of course, it's no longer probably worth going for the GC given the time gaps. But my team is in good health and from now on anything is possible.
Team Sky have dominated the race so far. How can anyone succeed in getting one over them?
JRN: Yes, Sky have been enormously impressive. It's going to be necessary to attack them. Today, they are going well but I know the Tour de France very well and I know that, for them, the hardest is still to come.