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.

14 thoughts on “Pavé

  1. Well, I heard I issed meeting you by one day, my buddy Shane met you in Girona with your wife.I saw you commented on his blog also, that sums up the reason we love reading/watching you ride.
    I’ll have to return to Girona again to catch you. Thanks for the great cycling, eating and drinking site tips from the mag article. We had a blast around Girona on our bikes and loved every bit of Girona.
    Congrats on your first Tour finish. I hope to meet you too one day, keep writing, us little people are living the pro life through you.

  2. Hi Michael, I just received a copy of Le Metier via Anthony McCrossan dedicated by you to my friend Andrew who was knocked off his bike by a hit and run driver a few months ago. Thanks for taking the time to write in the book, I’m super-excited about visiting him in hospital to deliver it. I now need to sve up for my own copy as it looks fantastic. 😉 I’ll update you here once I’ve visited him.

  3. Another great vid, Mr Barry – what camera do you use to take such great footage?

    Well done on the TdF

    1. Hi Lul, Thanks for the note–pleased you like the vid. I used a gopro hd. It is a small camera and easy to mount on a helmet, bike or car. Cheers, Michael

  4. perhaps a little cyclo cross or better still mountain bike riding before could help bit late now but some thing to think about

  5. Nothing compares to riding cobbles. Cyclo cross has its similarity in as much as you are ridng a similar bike but mountain biking is totally different especially as the bike performs very differently to a road bike. In terms of bike handling, the pro roadmen are generaly awsome already. Additionally the speed these guys ride over the cobbles has to be seen to be believed. Ultimately the only way to learn to ride a road bike on cobbles is to go and do it, hence this video.

    Brilliant piece of video, thanks to Michael and the rest of Team Sky for this.

  6. Hey Michael, are you riding the world championships? Good luck with the Eneco Tour.

  7. Excellent! Cobbles patched with tarmac reminded me of Faversham Market – perilous to walk on hellish to cycle over.

  8. Hi Michael,

    This is a profound Thank You for Le Metier. It’s wonderful. You not only capture many emotions I feel about the bike that I’ve never been able to put to words, but you’ve expanded my understanding of what it’s like to be a professional in the sport.

    My wife bought the book for me as a get-well present after a recent cycling accident. The impact resulted in damage to my eyes, among a number of other issues, so she’s been reading it to me, a few pages every day. What a luxury.

    Again, thank you for the beautiful book, and for providing me with motivation to fully recover and get back to my passion, the bicycle.


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