Matthew Busche had little time – just one week – to regroup after his first Tour de France and throw himself back into the mountains.
The Tour and the short rest leading into the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah sapped his strength, particularly in the later stages and the 29-year-old from Wauwatosa finished 11th overall, back a bit from the second and fifth placings he scored in previous years.
Busche will return to the mountains on Sunday, in Colorado and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, hopeful another week of rest will restore his energy. On a break from the bike, he took time to reflect on the momentous experience of his first Tour.
In a blog post, you referenced the chills you felt riding into Paris and the Champs Elysees. Can you describe that feeling and how it distracted you, if at all, from the task at hand?
I don't know exactly why, but I had a brief moment of chills; probably because it was a really neat experience and maybe the signal that I was so close to finishing the hardest race of my life. I suppose for just that moment I was slightly distracted, but it was brief. There is no relaxing on the Champs. It is full gas to the finish. The parade is before and after, but not while racing those final laps.
How will the Tour de France experience impact your cycling going forward?
The Tour was an eye opening experience really. It showed me a new level of racing and ability to suffer or push the limits. The physical and mental exhaustion is incredible. There is never an easy day at the Tour. You have to be ready to push the limit every day. You have to be prepared for anything. Even the most basic, routine-looking stage can turn to total chaos. It will definitely make me a better rider for the future.
Looking back, did you meet your goals? Were you satisfied or disappointed?
The number one goal was to finish, so yes I accomplished that. Also I wanted to get into a breakaway or two and try to get a stage win. I managed to get into two breakaways, so that was a good accomplishment. Stage wins are not easy, so I have to work on that for the future. Overall, I am satisfied with my Tour because it was a big learning experience. I faced a lot of adversity and had to figure out how to battle through it. I will have those experiences to look to for future obstacles I have.
You seemed surprised by the intensity of the race and the course. What stood out as more difficult than you anticipated?
The race was just really difficult. You always hear the Tour is the hardest race in the world, but you can't really explain it properly or know what that means until you've actually done it. I think it is just that every day is fast and you have to be focused/ready for anything to happen at any time. Even now that I've completed the Tour, I can't really explain it any better than to say it was very difficult.
Has your body and spirit recovered as expected, or are you feeling lingering effects. How has the Tour affected you in that regard?
It's hard to say really. There are small things that are still reminders of the hard month of racing. Overall though, I think I'm just trying to reenergize and refocus for the next goals.
Busche added a footnote to that answer on his blog following the Tour of Utah:
“Tour of Utah is complete and I think I’m happy it is. The team atmosphere was good all week, but I think my legs are still a little tired from the Tour. The final two days of racing were very tough. I did my best to hang on, but I was suffering to follow the hard accelerations of the front guys. It seemed like I just couldn’t get my body to make that last push. I didn’t feel the “ease” to go deep. Obviously going to your limit is never easy, but sometimes the body will respond better when pushed. I’m really hoping (expecting) that with a good week of rest and recovery, I will bounce back strong for Colorado.”
Tom Held writes The Active Pursuit blog for Silent Sports.