Speak to Aussie Freddy on the start line. I've not known him long but he seems a real good bloke.
A few k in pass Geoff and ask how he feels. He says he doesn't have a chain and I know the feeling also.
Break goes. Stop and unclip and have a pee on big road.
A little later and the race has settled down for the day. Danny Swol, James and I have a little chat about our tactics. Slogan Owen is in the break, we asses the situation, it looks favourable, for now.
Say hi to a great Dutchie I haven't seen in a while. Chat about the winter whilst negotiating a little bit of a crosswind. Makes me laugh how conversation continues even when you are constantly moving around.
Belgian guy says hi, we joke about something. Ask him if he got his jumper back he left in our hotel last week.
Speak to an Aussie for a bit. Also a nice guy. He's probably one of the favourites but we can still chat and laugh for a few minutes, mainly talking of the season ahead.
See the other Rabo dutch guy. We have a chat about an early season French race and a laugh about how I still owe him a bidon from the last stage of Avenir. Today I can repay him he jokes. Someone almost rides in to a traffic island in front. We continue to speak but eyes always remain firmly ahead.
I tell some French guy where to stick it when he throws his helmet, head inside, toward my shoulder going in to a corner. I don't really care if he understands, but I tell him there is one hundred kilometres to go and he has no right to ride like such a…
Big road, have a pee on the go on a slight downhill. Big random crash just in front. Teammate Ruben is tangled up at the bottom as I hop on to curb to go around it.
Get a hex key from Neutral service to tighten computer mount as it has come loose - team car is behind the convoy from crash. We also happen to be last car in the convoy.
James says Ruben is out. Not great news. Another crash happens almost immediately. Nerves are creeping in to the bunch.
Joke with Freddy on climb. His teammate brings him a bottle. As we laugh about a crash going uphill another one happens right in front. Then around the next corner a motorbike is lying on the road, we come to a standstill from the bottleneck it causes.
Nod at the boss as he watches out the car window waiting for the bunch to pass on early slopes of La Redoute.
Logan and rest of the break caught on Redoute - tell him good job. Was a good job.
Kiwi on Lotto asks how it is. Most common question in the bunch in one way or another, always a strange one. Not many competitors in other sports ask each other how they are mid competition I bet.
Stand at a level crossing with 15 k of the race to go. Break disappearing up the road. Train driver looks bizarre crouched in the front in his uniform. Feel surreal. Strange experience.
Someone in front group shouts we are going the wrong way on the top of Saint Nicholas.