From his very first outing of the season at the Tour Down Under in Australia at the start of the year, Venter said he treated each race as a training opportunity for the Tour.
“You do all these races and you want to be ready for July but you don’t know if you will be so it was obviously a big stress and a lot of pressure leading up to it,” he said.
“When I got the call I was quite shocked,” he admitted.
“Even leading up to the Tour I didn’t know what my chances of being selected were so I was very happy. I was shocked and really happy.”
Venter explained the bulk of his training happened between November last year and January this year and he spent up to eight hours in the saddle per day.
He said on the Pro Tour even the early-season races gave an indication of the level of competition that could be expected in July and it was simply a case of “building and building until you get closer to the Tour”.
Faced with the monumental task of completing 21 stages in the lap around France, Venter said there was by no means a guarantee of success and this became apparent during his hardest day when the race passed through the high Alps.
“I think it was stage 16 or 17 when I really had a hard day. I had some stomach problems and I wasn’t feeling too good.
“We started on a massive climb, it was almost an hour of climbing, and we had another two climbs to go.
“Luckily I finished in the time limit and the next day I was feeling much better again.”
The possibility of not completing Le Tour was never an option for Venter though, saying “you do whatever it takes”.
“You always know there’s a possibility if something goes wrong or if you have a bad day you might go home that day but you try to just block it out and hope you make it.”
Teammate Mark Cavendish was one of 31 riders who did not make it after he crashed out in the sprint for the finsih during the fourth stage.
Venter said his exit from the Tour had been a “Joh, what do we do now?” moment as, with 11 sprint stages, the team’s strategy was built around the former world champion.
“It was a big loss for us and we had to refocus ourselves. Luckily we knew we still had some strong riders left and we knew we had to carry on trying and fighting until it paid off.”
Their efforts were rewarded on stage 19 when Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, who had been denied victory in the earlier stages, delivered for the team.
This, along with memories of driving the peloton in front of huge crowds in Dusseldorf on the opening stage and the approach to the Champs-Élysées in Paris on the final day, were the highlights for Venter.
The 30-year-old reflected on how busy the three weeks had been, saying it had been a blur of hotels, buses and racing.
“At the Tour you don’t really have time for anything and the rest days sound like rest days, but we still need to go for rides, get our massages and try do things you couldn’t do on the other days.”
At the end of it all, Venter said the Tour was just like any other event.
“It’s still a bike race with the same guys, everyone is just a bit more nervous and the pressure is a bit higher.”