G’day from Modena! We are all on our well-deserved second rest day today which comes after a solid six stages in Italy. The last two days were the first real tests for the GC contenders with both days being quite hard mountain top finishes! The climbs were tougher than I expected but that’s not really a surprise; the profiles always look easier than they end up being.

Both days were really good for Belkin. Our main man Dirty Wilco (Wilco Kelderman) is showing his class and potential. A very impressive third on stage 8 and sixth yesterday show he means business and has the legs and condition. The whole team is going in to the second half with high morale and motivation to support him as best as we can.

I tried myself yesterday as I was given some freedom. I was a part of the winning breakaway — and spent some time off the front solo — but the last climb was too much for me with my current form. Still I’m happy as I’m feeling more like myself and my legs are getting stronger. I’ll try again in the stages to come.

Rest days and sleep are two very important things in a long tour, and especially in a Grand Tour. This year Belkin has a new partnership/sponsor deal with a Dutch bed and mattress maker called M Line. And because of this, for the Grand Tours, each rider gets his own memory foam mattress and pillow which is transported from hotel to hotel so we have the same one every night.

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In my opinion this is a massive advantage and a great initiative from the team. I normally take my own pillow to each race but this is taking it to a new level.

What spectators don’t see is the long transfer after some stages. Some nights you’re not getting to the dinner table until 10pm or later which is OK if you’re Spanish but I find it difficult to sleep some nights. Knowing you are going to be laying on a great mattress is good to know.

Some rest days actually don’t allow us to get much rest. For example our transfer from Ireland wasn’t really a rest day and generally it varies how different riders choose to spend the day.

On the way to the airport coming to the Giro I was actually talking to Baden Cooke about this very topic. I think every guy has one horrible experience and learns his lesson well. This was the case after the first rest day in last year’s Vuelta. If you don’t do enough on the rest day and if you eat too much you are likely to pay for it for at least a day, in my case it was two.

On the rest days I normally eat half of what I normally would for breakfast, do an easy 90 minutes on the bike with the team, stop for a coffee as you do in Italy and then an extra 45-60 minutes on my own with some intervals. In Baden’s case it was swapping off with Brad McGee for 45 minutes, but it’s more or less the same idea.

For lunch I also have a smaller portion. After that I’m either in bed or on the massage table! Today I got a 45-minute nap in which was nice and now I’m writing this.

The next week will be be interesting with some chances for everyone and a big test for the GC contenders with the time trial.

Until next time,

Dave

Click here to read more about David Tanner and click here to follow him on Twitter.

Follow the links to read previous installments in this series:

- Part 1: the build-up
- Part 2: ciao Ireland, bonjourno Italy!
- Part 3: the food we eat