We caught up with Brent Monday via phone from the BMC Racing Team’s Novotel Hotel in Andorra la Vella, Andorra, where he was enjoying the first rest day of this year’s Tour de France. He had plenty to share, from how he spent his rest day, to his recovery from the Stage 1 crash to the crazy weather conditions Sunday to his expected duties in the second week of the three-week race.
How did the first Tour de France rest day go for you?
“It was busy, like always. It always feels like there is going to be more time in the day. But it kind of fills up fast. From the time you ride, to the time you do a couple meals and then massage, a physio treatment and then take a nap, that is pretty much it. There is not much thumb twiddling or time killing.”
How are you feeling now, a little more than a week after your crash on the opening stage?
“I am definitely feeling better and somewhat relieved to have gotten through the first week, especially the past couple of days. Seeing other guys like Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Michael Morkov (Katusha Team) – riders who went down hard on Stage 1 and had to leave the race – it is definitely somewhat of a relief for me to reach the first rest day nine stages in. These first nine stages that I have done in every tour are always super demanding and it is a long week – especially being a nine-day first week as opposed to a seven-day one. It is a big physical load, even at 100 percent and I was a little comprised right from the beginning. So I am proud of how I pulled through and proud of the team around me for the guys being able to pick up a little bit of slack that I left for them at times. But I am also still proud to be able to contribute myself, even if I was not at 100 percent.”
Describe the contrasts in weather you experienced during Sunday’s stage through the Pyrenees.
“We had a really hard, uphill start where the GC (general classification) guys were attacking hard, already 170 kilometers from the finish. Things eventually settled down a little bit. But we were really riding in a furnace. It was disgustingly hot. It reminded me of that Palm Springs stage in the Amgen Tour of California a few years back (2013) when guys were just passing out. It really felt yesterday like we were descending into a furnace with a hair dryer in your face. I was definitely giving a little bit of a buffer to the guy in front of me on some of the downhills. When it gets that hot, you think about the pavement melting and tires rolling and other crazy stuff happening. So the heat had everyone suffering. Then, surprising as it was, going up the final climb of the day we could see rain off in the distance. But I did not anticipate it being hailing and so cold. It was like going from a furnace to a freezer, all in the course of 30 minutes. That was tough. I was back at the team car, taking on more jackets and trying to stay warm.”
What lies ahead for you in this next week?
“It is a pretty diverse week. Tuesday, we have another hard uphill start again. We have the finish on Mont Ventoux coming up. We have a time trial coming up. And then, at the end of the week, we have two of the hardest days of the tour, for sure. Hopefully, I will be operating back toward a fuller percentage of my full speed and able to help more in the mountains than I was able to in the first week. These past couple of mountain stages, I definitely was not one of the last guys with Richie (Porte) or Tejay (van Garderen). I was doing more work early. That said, I think everyone is seeing that Damiano Caruso and Amaël Moinard are climbing really well. So Tejay and Richie have been really well supported and taken good care of. Hopefully, I will be just another versatile guy in the mix – whether that is helping them on a climb later in the race or getting bottles or controlling early or riding position in the wind, I am happy to do all of that. They brought me here to do all of that. So it is really going to vary what I do day-by-day.”