After starting my 13th Tour de France - seven as a rider and now six as the performance manager of the Let's Go-Scott team, it still astounds me how unpredictable the race is.

To gather intelligence for our riders I drove the entire routes of stages one and two before the race started.

They were long days. Driving the coast of the Vendee region during peak holiday season made the going painfully slow; up to 12 hours between leaving and returning to the team hotel.

Getting route information from pre-race reconnaisance - rather than scanning Google Earth - is vitally important. "Feeling" the stage route gives a much more authentic sense of what the peloton can expect.


The priorities for Let's Go-Scott in the first two stages at Let's Go was to save energy, not lose time and get through unscathed. Having quality information from the road is just as important to achieve these goals as it is when aiming for a win.

Such conservative goals under the relentless stress of the Tour de France are not as simple as they may seem. After the first two days, Adam Yates, our key rider aiming for a podium in Paris, found himself already down 50 seconds on the lead time, while whilst six of our eight riders had already experienced "body v tarmac" at least once.

Crappy luck you may think but the irony is, although we considered this not an ideal outcome, it certainly isn't considered a disaster for us.

Such a turbulent start in the Tour is far from ideal but we cannot let panic set in. We must keep the faith that we can turn things around. The Tour de France is an epic race of epic proportions and the tide of luck – good or bad – can turn in a split second.

If the riders sense that those closest to them are bathed in the stress and frustration, this negative energy gets exacerbated and can quickly flow through the team. Keeping the morale, keeping the confidence and keeping the belief become our priorities.

Much of this comes from knowing the effort that not only the riders have put in for many months but also the effort of the mechanics, sports therapists, sports science staff and key personnel.

By stage thee, the team time trial - a team race against the clock - we were able to reverse much of the deficit on some of the favourites who had gained time over us through our misfortunes across the first two stages.

The defending champion, Chris Froome, and race favourite, Richie Porte, were in the same boat going into the TTT and although we didn't take time on their teams, BMC or Sky, we were able to bring ourselves back into the game finishing fourth at nine seconds.


This result is testament to the resilience and capacity of our riders to make a turnaround despite much of the team being dressed in bandages. Our New Zealand strongman, Jack Bauer, was a stand out in making this result happen.

With BMC's Patrick Bevin helping his team to take the TTT victory - a stage win for Pat in the Tour de France - and Tom Scully's EF Education First team producing the surprise result of the day to finish sixth, the Kiwi contingent were all amongst the key riders to turn the tables for their respective teams after difficult opening stages.

I said earlier in the week, these New Zealand athletes are unlikely to be seen much on TV or in the limelight as they are essential cogs working within the engines of the biggest cycling teams in the World.

Dion Smith, however, has already shone a light on himself, seizing the opportunity early on to take the prestigious polka dot jersey; the first time we have seen this at the Tour. Smith's team will be ecstatic, as he should be too.

Kiwis are doing us all proud and we are likely to see Pat Bevin doing the hard yards on the front during the next few days for teammate, Greg Van Avermaet, as they defend the leader's yellow jersey.

There is still plenty to keep us enthralled throughout the first week as we head toward the certain-to-be-chaotic cobbled eighth stage finishing in Roubaix on Sunday, which will be a feast of a day for armchair sports fans.

Julian Dean, a former New Zealand professional cyclists, is the Let's Go-Scott high performance director.