Michael Barry (Team Sky) is finally in the Tour de France after years of missing out of a spot on the nine-man rosters at Discovery Channel and Columbia.
Just over a week before the Tour started the Canadian veteran got the call that he was heading to Rotterdam to support Team Sky captain Bradley Wiggins.
“It feels great (to be at Tour). I didn’t know fully what to expect, but yesterday was incredible with the amount of people on the side of the road,” Barry told VeloNews. “I can already see the Tour is unlike any other race.”
Barry said he received the call “10 or 12 days ago” and that he was the last of the team’s nine-man roster to be selected. A strong performance at the Giro d’Italia helped convince Team Sky brass to select Barry.
“I am enjoying the Tour. We were actually talking about what it’s like to be here with Serge Pauwels, who rode through his hometown yesterday. There were tens of thousands of people there, and a lot of them were cheering just for him. That’s a terrific moment that will stay with him the rest of his life,” he said.
“It would have been difficult to have been at the Tour of Austria, when you know you have good fitness and everyone else is racing the Tour.”
Barry will be one of the important men for Team Sky in Tuesday’s potentially dangerous stage across the cobblestones.
“We have a good team for the cobbles. The most important thing is position and being in the front,” Barry said.
“Bradley is one of the few GC contenders who have ridden the pave. He’s comfortable on the cobbles, so we just have to keep him out of trouble. If there’s an opportunity, we’ll play it when it comes.”
Flecha will ride for Wiggo
One of those men who could have a shot is Spanish cobblestone expert Juan Antonio Flecha, who’s finished on the Paris-Roubaix podium and won Omloop Het Nieuwsblat this year.
But Flecha said his first responsibility is to protect Wiggins.
“Tomorrow is not Paris-Roubaix, it’s a stage at the Tour de France, so the race will be very different than what we see in April,” Flecha told VeloNews.
“There will be a lot more riders together when we hit the first pave, the entire peloton will be fighting to be at the front. My job is to help Bradley, my experience can help him, so I am first thinking about helping my captain, then we’ll see how the race situation is.”