The 2013 Etape hurt. A lot. But this year I'll be better prepared.
Firstly, I've got new bike stuff. New shoes and pedals - so more power into the wheel - and I'll try and get some fancy wheels to go with them if I can summon up the cash between now and July.
Secondly, I'm not as fat. Last year I lost 10 kilos to compete, I've put some of it back on (about 3kg), but that means I've got a lot less to lose and should, ideally, be lighter this year.
Thirdly, I'm fundamentally fitter. Right now a 50-mile ride isn't really a thing. Last year it was quite big deal.
Fourthly, I had a bike fit (full report later on). With a bit of luck (and some physio) this means I'm not only more efficient on the bike, but I won't have to get off to stretch my back as often. Or, ideally, at all. That alone would cut a load of minutes off my 2013 time.
Fifthly, I've actually trained for this before. I know what worked (turbos, hill repeats, sportives) what didn't (taking May off to go to weddings, spraining my ankle playing football 5 days before training camp) and can tailor my training around it.
Sixthly - riding to work. I'm doing that a lot more meaning I'm just getting more time on the bike than I did last year, earlier. I can only get two intervals in on my ride, but it's an incremental gain I'm happy to have.
Finally - I bought an aero shirt. This allegedly saves me 30secs an hour. There's no way I can do worse!
Added bonus point - I'm scared sooner. That's because I'm also riding one of the Spring Classics. Not just any one, the 250km+, 5,000m of climbing, oldest, longest and possibly hardest Spring Classic: Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Fittingly in its 100th edition (as the Tour was last year).