Riding a Grand Tour is something every up-and-coming cyclist dreams of doing. The actual prospect of riding a three-week stage race can be daunting though and as was the case for Finn Fisher-Black, doing so for a GC hopeful team such as UAE Team Emirates can add extra pressure.
“You never feel ready,” the 21-year-old New Zealander tells Cycling News. “I'm empty after a one-week race, and I couldn't imagine going for another two weeks…At the start, part of me was worried; what if I'm just getting dropped in the last week, every day, just getting my head kicked in?”
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“Because we had a GC focus and a sprint focus, every day there was a job to be done," Fisher-Black continues. "That first week I was hanging out for an easy day, but it just didn't come…every day, I was digging a deeper hole, and then I paid for it in the second week.”
Despite this, the Kiwi did begin to feel stronger. In the breakaway on stages 8 and 20, and on the stage 16 summit finish in Bejes, Fisher-Black finished second behind two-time Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard. “It was funny because it was my first ever breakaway, I've never been in an early breakaway, even going back to juniors," he recalls. “Those two days [stages 8 and 20]…I'd spent so much energy getting into the break that I was just cooked again. What these guys do time after time - it’s crazy how they get in the break and then still can perform in the finals. It's impressive.”
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Although he wasn't able to take the win on stage 16, the climbing form of Fisher-Black left Vingegaard very impressed. “Jonas came up to me, and he was like, ‘Did you get any power records yesterday?'" Fisher-Black reveals. "I got my best 10 and 12 minutes…It's pretty cool to know I wasn't just beaten by anyone.”
“I'm better than the level I was before, which is a really nice feeling because it's been such a long journey since I broke my leg. I've now finished my first Grand Tour, and I feel like I did a good job there, so it's a really nice feeling looking back," Fisher-Black concludes. “Everyone's telling me I'm going to be a different rider... Hopefully, endurance and being able to do power numbers after four or five hours or after a week-long race - I'm hoping that will improve."