The Frenchman reflects on his maiden GC victory, while he prepares for new challenges.
It's been almost a week since I've been home. And now I had the time to let it all sink in! When I came home I just took time to relax and recover a bit because after an intense week like the one in California, with hard stages and even long transfers, you really need some rest. There wasn't a welcome home party, because I just wanted to enjoy being with my family. My parents are really proud of me and that is the most important thing for me. The best reward was when I got a phone call from my parents in California telling me how proud they were. This is what I do it for!
Looking back on last week I can only smile. The Amgen Tour of California has been a really great experience. After last year I came so close to victory, it feels amazing to finally take the overall. I came to California fully motivated, but I can't say I was in the best condition. After doing the Ardennes Classics I kind of took two weeks off. In my head I just wanted to see day by day how I felt on the bike and not put too much pressure on me.
But coming onto the Californian roads I felt good. I just love it in California: nice weather, nice big roads, good atmosphere, really my kind of thing. I'd like to come here back on vacation and honestly as soon as possible, to make a road trip like my teammate Tom Boonen did a few years ago, because I would love to discover all the places. The race passed through many beautiful cities and landscapes, but you don't have the time to soak it all in, so that's next on my to-do list!
I couldn't really believe that I had won the race until the race was finished, and even then... Maybe I realized it once I got home. I'm really proud of what I did and especially proud of this team, my teammates really pushed me every day to go for the win and they supported me with everything they could. So I must thank them for that! After the race I treated myself to a nice burger, of which many say is the best one in the States, so I had to try it!
Now it's time to start training again, because my next race is the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to racing in my home country. It's a good preparation for the events which will come after that. My dream is to ride the Tour de France one day. We will see if it will be possible this year.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele