EF's Doull 'loving' Tour debut despite lack of Danish toilet breaks

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Welshman Owain Doull said on Monday he is "loving" his maiden Tour de France experience despite the lack of opportunities to "have a nature break" during the crowded opening stages in Denmark.

Doull, 29, joined EF Education-EasyPost this season after more than five years with Team Sky, which has now become Ineos Grenadiers.

This year's Tour started in Copenhagen before two other days in the kingdom with spectators packing the roadsides in the cycling-mad country.

"I'm loving it," Doull told AFP during the Tour's third and final rest day

"It was quite hard because when you're racing you end up with three or four chances to have a nature break, but when there's not a metre of spare road you can't pull up in front of a load of fans and have a number one.

"As soon as there was an odd section where there were no people, or a gap of no people then all the riders would be shooting off to alleviate themselves," he jokingly added.

The 2016 Olympic team pursuit gold medallist started cycling as a teenager and went to Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf, a high school in Cardiff which has produced a host of international rugby players.

One of his school mates is Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell, who was an unused substitute in their loss to Rugby World Cup winners South Africa on Saturday.

"I played (rugby) for the school to an OK level, but I knew it was never going to be the sport for me," Doull said.

"Patch is one of my closest friends, so to see what he has gone on to achieve is inspirational," he added.

- 'Why not?' -

Last year, another of his friends from Glantaf, Sion Mullane, passed away and Doull is an ambassador for his foundation, which raises money for young people from difficult backgrounds to fulfil their dreams.

"I believe I wouldn't be here, doing these races, and having the experience I've had without Sion," Doull said.

"His answer to everything was 'Why not?'. If I'd say 'There’s not a chance I can win this race' he would say 'Why not?'.

"There was no ceiling to what people he believed in could achieve. That's what we want to do with the foundation," he added.

On this Tour, Doull has been tasked with a support role for EF, who along with seven other teams, have allowed a film production company to follow this year's race from inside their camps, with a series set to broadcast early next year.

"I was never a massive fan of F1 but after watching Drive to Survive I was hooked," he said.

"If Netflix can do the same for cycling then it's a massive thing," he added.

One of Doull's former team-mates at Ineos and fellow Welshman, Geraint Thomas is third in the overall standings behind leader Jonas Vingegaard and double champion Tadej Pogacar.

Thomas, the 2018 Tour winner, continues his search for the yellow jersey with Tuesday's 16th stage, which is set to be raced in record temperatures of more than 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

The 36-year-old can call on all of his eight Ineos team-mates for the final run while Vingegaard and Pogacar have lost two support riders each.

"It's going to be tough for 'G' to win the Tour this year," Doull said.

"G's in a good spot, he has his whole team left.

"I'd love to see G win but realistically I think he'll end up on the podium, which in itself is a massive achievement," Doull added.

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