I love coming to California, it's a hard but beautiful race. California is actually a very wonderful place and everybody is super nice, which is a pleasant bonus.
I came here last year on vacation for two weeks, and I really took the time with the car to visit all the nice places where last year during the race I didn't have the time to really see. We did all the stages again with the car, this way you can learn a lot from it before the race. I love riding my bike here, and I think to the Americans here it's a very important race.
Everybody from our team is coming out of a rest period, except for Mark of course he came from Tour of Turkey, but that makes it a bit more hard to race. We have to get used to competition efforts again. My goal for this week is to be better, to get the race feel back in my legs.
We already trained a week in Morgan Hill before the race and visited our sponsor Specialized, and we also did some testing in the wind tunnel.
For Cavendish is very important he can sprint as much as possible.
For me it's also more fun to ride when you are here with a goal — the leadout train for Mark — this way you are more focused on the bike.
Maybe we can even go for a challenge, maybe try a more hard stage for Mark and if he doesn't get over I can try to do my thing.
The first stage was pretty hard with all the wind and all, really not easy!
But in the final everyone went full gas, that I like. :-)
I felt really strong in the first stage, in the last kilometer I pulled for longer than usual to get the sprint going. If you don't sprint yourself it's even harder than if you do have to sprint yourself. :-)
I'm very happy we won the first stage because we won't get a lot of chances to sprint. So stage number 1 was already bingo!