Prior to the Tour de France the team rode the cobbled roads we would race over on the stage to Arenberg. Knowing the cobbles and the lead-up to the sectors makes a significant difference to our performance as we pick landmarks as reference points, note the dodgy bits of road and preview the aspects of the course that could change the outcome of the race. For some riders in the team the training session was also a learning experience as they had never ridden the rougher cobbles and asked for pointers from Juan-Antonio Flecha and the veterans. The inexperienced tend to tense up while the others let their bikes float beneath their bodies absorbing some of the shock while also limiting blisters and muscle pain. When the bike floats the chance of punctures is also decreased. A tense rider is more likely to crash as his reactions are brusque and he fails to see the flow of the race.
The Tour stage turned into a chaotic mess as soon as we were within 20 km of the cobbles as the peloton grew nervous, riders began crashing in their push toward the front of the group while others crashed because they jammed on their brakes. In the end, the stage made for some great bike racing and the best were at the front in the finale.
The video is of our training session three days prior to the start of the Tour. It gives a bit of a perspective of the roads and countryside. While training, whenever we hit the cobbled sections the team would split up as some riders– notably Wiggins and Flecha– attacked the stones with vigour while others rode over them apprehensively. The camera was placed on the hood of the teamcar.