How ya going, mate? Hanging in there? Had a good rest day? Ready for the Alps?
All things being equal, you're having a pretty average Tour - by your standards, anyway. OK, so you've had a bit of bad luck, without which you'd be up there right next to Froomie. There was that puncture on Stage 2, which lost you a heap of time. That wasn't the ideal start.
How could we forget that faceplant into the rear of a stalled moto on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, either? That must have hurt, especially as you were gassing it at the time and you'd opened a gap on Froome.
— CyclingCentral (@CyclingCentral) July 14, 2016
Bet you were sore the next morning - I guess that may have contributed to a pretty average time trial. Still, it was super windy that day and you're only a little bloke, so it's not surprising that you suffered a bit
But. compared to previous grand tours where you've been racing for the win, you're actually doing OK. You're not sick, you haven't had a jour sans where you've lost 20 minutes, and you haven't taken any spare wheels you shouldn't have.
You're clearly in cracking form, especially in the mountains. You showed that on the Arcalis and on Ventoux. Good job you've got four solid days of climbing ahead of you. In fact, there's a solid chance that several of the riders ahead of you may crack in the next four days, meaning a top five or even a podium position is achievable.
The smart thing to do would be to just follow the wheels and you'll be right. You'll get the UCI points for a high finish, which will be handy to secure a reasonable contract for next year. You can always try again in 2017.
But the smart thing isn't going to win you this Tour de France, Richie. It's also not going to make you a legend. You see, mate, we're rooting for you. You're being a quality Aussie battler, and we respect you for that. We can see your potential and we want a hero on the level of Cadel to barrack for.
We need a legend, Richie, and you can become that legend. All you've got to do is attack like you don't care if you win or lose.
Friday's monster stage to Mont Blanc looks good. Have a word with Tejay, get him to lose a heap of time and rest up over the next couple of days. He's cooked anyway. Send him up the road in the early break, and When you hit the beginning of the Montee de Bisanne at 60km to go, gun it. Go hard. Sky and Movistar will be too busy looking at each other, and they'll think you're going too far out. Bridge up to Tejay and keep it going. You might get caught. You might not. You might get a stage win. You might claw back enough time to get third, or second, or maybe - just maybe - yellow. You might blow up spectacularly and roll in half an hour down. It doesn't matter.
Richie, in ten or twenty years' time, people won't remember if you came fourth or fifth by following wheels. They probably won't remember if you came second ('first loser'?). But they will remember an epic escape, a long-range attack for the ages. We'll be out of our seats in the middle of the night, cheering you on all the way, and we'll love you for it.
So, Richie, don't race smart. Race like you don't care if you win or lose. Unleash the 'mongrel element' in you that BMC Racing sport director Allan Peiper keeps talking about. Attack like you do on Old Willunga Hill every year - just go harder and longer than you ever have before. Attack for Australia, Richie, and you'll be a legend whether you win or lose.