Welcome to this “How To” guide, designed to help you gain a greater understanding of the principles of overreacting in Grand Tour racing. Please share with your friends if they are stuck in a grounded reality.
Step 1: Completely disregard your pre-race research
Before the race, you may have foolishly spent countless hours researching every pedal stroke of Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice or maybe even the Tour of the Alps. None of these races matter now, because your pre-race pick looked a little hot and bothered on an incline on day three. Being strong just last month is now completely irrelevant. You’re only as good as your last hairpin. Class is temporary, form is permanent.
Step 2: If they’re not in the top sixteen, they no longer exist
Congratulations to all the riders who navigated a tricky prologue and that one bumpy stage finish to grab a position in the race’s top sixteen. Commiserations to all riders currently placed seventeenth or lower; you are now eliminated from all conversations, deemed useless, and may be required to ride in a clown mask so everybody knows you will have no impact on the next two weeks. Of course, all current stage winners are exempt from these rules and will be blessed by TV cameras every day – even when going backwards.
Step 3: The King of the Mountains competition is officially over
Make sure you ignore the fact that there are seven summit finishes remaining and we are yet to visit altitude; the King of the Mountains competition is over. If bookmakers are stupid enough to price up the competition, make sure to lump on the current leader. Tell all your friends that this competition is now completely over. For extra satisfaction, point and laugh at any rider who has yet to score a mountain point.
Step 4: No more crashes! Everybody will now finish
There will have been many crashes in the opening week and it’s possible some of your favourite riders have been forced to quit the race. Fortunately, the first week is now over and riders can no longer get hurt. Everybody who has survived the banana skins of the opening week will now definitely finish the race. Motorbike drivers remove their blindfolds in week two, rain promises to stay away, and all bunch sprints take place in individual lanes. All the main protagonists will now finish.
Step 5: Remind yourself that Weeks 2 & 3 are notoriously boring
Every good Directeur Sportif will tell you that Week 1 presents the most opportunities to gain time. Usually, Weeks 2 & 3 contain the greatest number of boring flat stages and therefore it is very difficult to gain time. Some Grand Tours forbid riders from attacking in Week 3 and the final five stages are often ridden as a procession for fans in local villages.
Step 6: Force yourself to forget every Grand Tour you have ever watched.
Repeat after me: This is the only Grand Tour that has ever existed. I cannot remember any other Grand Tours. I have learnt nothing during my [insert number] years of watching professional cycling.