When the 2020 Tour de France started in Nice, there were unknowns aplenty. Teams had limited training and racing time together. Would the Tour reach Paris? How would the riders and staff function under the medical protocols? The list went on.
We went into the Tour, rightly, full of optimism. Every Tour offers a sort of new beginning. But this season we suited up in Nice fresh off a victory at the Dauphiné on the legs of Dani Martinez. Sergio Higuita was riding well, and Rigo was making his Tour comeback. We eyed the GC with multiple options — the Tour can change your plans in an instant. On cue, it did. Dani battled an early crash and time loss and rode to a beautiful, thrilling stage win in the mountains. Rigo hung tough and rode to a top 10 a year after a career-threatening injury at the Vuelta. We started three Tour rookies, and the American Neilson Powless spent 19 hours in breakaways. We also donned the yellow helmets of the team classification leaders for seven days.
Hear from each of our Tour riders on their experience at the 2020 Tour de France below:
I’m happy to get to Paris, that we’re finished because this race was a real goal for me, last year I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to return back to race this race, there have been some really tough moments, but with the support from my family, my friends, this team and my fans it’s given me enough strength to come back. So to finish this Tour de France means a lot to me. It’s been an excellent Tour, there have been great moments, other moments not so great, I’ve suffered a lot on the bike, but this is the beauty of cycling and there’s nothing quite like arriving in Paris, especially in the top 10 on GC. You always want to be on the podium, of course, but in reality the podium only few can make it there and this is a race with the highest caliber of rider there is.
This Tour is a special one because it’s been complicated with not being able to get out and train during the lockdown, ok we were training inside on the rollers, but it’s not the same as being outside. Also having the Tour later in the year, that’s something that has really benefited me, as it’s given me more time to train and rehabilitate. My shoulder still isn’t at 100 percent, but when I think about everything that has happened this has been a phenomenal Tour for me.
To be honest, I’m arriving into Paris feeling exhausted, it’s been a hard, fast three weeks of racing, but today is a special day, you always have to enjoy it to the absolute maximum. There have been a lot of happy moments, but winning the stage was something incredibly special, not just for me, but for the whole team. It gave us that bit of confidence and helped keep the motivation levels high. But there were other moments that were special, like on stage 18 when as a team we all came to help Rigo get back into the bunch. To be there by his side helping him, coming together as a team really bonds us.”
This team is honestly like a family, when it comes to Grand Tours everyone pulls together, the directors, the soigneurs, the mechanics, everyone, we come together and work as one towards the same objective. You always learn things from racing in races like these, this one was particularly special coming into it off winning the Dauphine, ok it didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped, but winning the stage and supporting Rigo made it special and there are many moments I’ll take away with me.
I used to watch the TOC come through Sacramento close to where I lived when I was in elementary school. My dad would take me out of school to watch the tour come though. We’d have a “family emergency.” I used to watch the WorldTour riders, some of the best riders in the world racing around the Capitol Building in Sacramento. These were the same riders who were riding the Tour de France the year prior, the guys I’d watch on TV in France. Ever since I saw them in person I just really wanted to make it happen for myself.
I’ve been in breakaways for over 19 hours during this Tour, and that’s quite a bit of time off the front, I have to say. A lot of calories burned and a lot of energy used but I think that just being able to do that, racing aggressively just has accelerated my growth in these three weeks. I feel like I’m coming out of this Tour a much better rider than when I came in. Just in terms of experience and learning how to ride a breakaway. Especially learning how to ride in a breakaway with some of the best riders in the world, while some of the best riders in the world are chasing you. I’ve also just learned the toll that it takes, day after day. I’ve never been this aggressive before in a full stage race, so knowing what it feels like to feel the repercussions of using that much energy, of going off the front. And I’ve learned about being wise about your energy each day when you’re not on the front.
I’ve talked to Primož a couple of times throughout the race and he’s always been in great spirits, he’s riding well. He’s been friendly throughout the whole Tour, apart from when it’s time to get to work in the critical parts of the stages. After the breakaway has rolled up the road a couple of times, when the race has calmed down a little bit he’s asked me how I’m doing, he’s said he likes the way that I’ve been racing. And I can say the same for him as well, he’s definitely been really strong out there.
Tejay van Garderen
This will be my 7th time arriving at the Champs-Élysées and it’s a special feeling getting to those cobbles. It’s been a tough three weeks but we all made it. I wish I was able to perform at a higher level at this Tour, but I’m proud to have made it to Paris. My role on the team has been a steady hand because of my experience. I think I was able to calm people down and need where to be and when to be there. Outside of the race itself, too, I think people were comfortable coming to me.
Dani winning the stage was the highlight of this year’s Tour. And this was off of a bad situation, but when Rigo had that fall on stage 19 and the whole team was able to come together at a really hard moment and being able to pace him back was special. Once we were on the bus we were like ‘okay, we did good there.’ The team performed great in a year that was a big question mark. To come in a little bit cold on racing and have the team perform at such a high level is a huge accomplishment.
It’s exciting to finish a special race in a special year. When Dani won the stage, it was the icing on the cake and it doesn’t get any better than that for a team. How you gel as a team is how you perform, so it’s been great to have a good functioning team. It makes getting on the bus and sitting around the table extra special.
Regarding COVID, since the lockdown it’s difficult to say how it’s really affected grand tour racing. It’s been a tough year for everyone I think. The unknown, the hanging on, hanging on, hanging on and then the late season. Coming into the Tour with the same pressure as usual but after a mentally stressful year has been a tough test for everyone. The staff, the riders. But I’ve enjoyed it. I think I’ve learned a lot and proved a lot to the team and other people about the way I ride, the kind of rider I am. I’m happy with the way it’s gone. I’m proud of everyone on the team, the staff and the riders, it’s been a really nice three weeks.
A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here, but a lot of people are happy we are here. I’m one of them. It’s been the toughest Tour that I’ve done in my whole career so I think we had a really good 3 weeks with the team and I was really happy to be a part of it. My favorite moment was Dani’s victory. It was really amazing and winning a stage in the Tour and even though I wasn’t in the front I heard it on the radio. I’m looking forward to going home and the first thing I’ll do tomorrow morning is give a big hug to my kids and my wife.
When you arrive on this day you forget all of the effort you did in the three weeks. You enjoy it with your teammates — the last day after one month together and arriving in Paris in one of the most famous streets in the world. So today we don’t think about our legs being sore. We just focus on being together and enjoying a unique moment in your career which is arriving at the Champs-Élysées. Every Tour de France leaves you with something, and it’s not just a bike race. You live for one month with 30 people and when you go home and miss this family. We never argued and we always find a solution for every problem. We’ve had a good atmosphere since the beginning and having Rigo as a leader makes it easier for everybody. In the end he showed us that he can pay back all of our trust.