Friday, June 19, 2015

Dead Computer

Help, my computer won't charge!! I'm actually being serious, my Macbook Air has just recently started acting funny about charging, and as of today it won't charge at all. Sad day. Anyway, I'll do my best via phone here.

Today's stage was like a mini Amstel Gold race using several of the same climbs and roads. The start was pure chaos. Not sure when the break actually went, but it took at least 1.5hrs of all out racing. Safe to say everyone was dead after. I tried a couple moves, but it wasn't to be. I think Lotto Soudal was keeping us close because Danny was so close in the GC and they wanted us to help pull. The gap was carefully monitored and it was all back together for a sprint at the end. Unfortunately for us, Danny had some mechanical issues in the last 15kms and he was unable to do the sprint to go for the victory or to move up in the GC. He was 2nd going into today, only 2 seconds back, so there was a chance he could do it. Bad luck though. Regarding my day, there was plenty of Dutch chaos, but it seemed a little better. I think the hills helped weed out a little of the garbage. Plus it was not an easy stage by any stretch of the imagination, so there were definitely some tired legs out there. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It is a mini Liege, so it should suit me well. I felt better today too, so I hope that will be even better tomorrow and I can go for it. I'm going to try!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ster Elektro 1 & 2

Well, racing in Holland is something special: narrow roads with islands, speed bumps, mini-medians, roundabouts, poles, cobblestones, cars, tractors, people, train tracks, etc. The prologue yesterday was relatively subdued given that it was only me, but when you try to jam 180 cyclists on roads only as wide as a bike path, something not so fun is going to happen. In the neutral zone alone today there were 4-5 crashes. I can say that I thought this race would be ok (maybe out of ignorance) until we did the neutral roll out. Then my nerves were on high alert. I fought as I could, but it just isn't my cup of tea. I'm too safe, unwilling to take crazy risks, and too willing to grab my brakes. Perhaps if you're used to this kind of racing, it is ok, but I saw too many crashes today to make me happy. Anyway, I also didn't seem to have the legs. The wind was strong all day and after countless accelerations and echelons, I couldn't do it anymore. I'm disappointed because I thought that if I could survive today, I would have a chance of a good overall this week, but that disappeared now. So instead I will have to try and get into a breakaway to go for a stage. Really hope I can do that! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

France Wrap-Up

Well, it was a hard week in France. It started positively with good, promising performances and feelings, but that all fell by the wayside in the middle of the week. It was frustrating to say the least, but I battled through and had a moment or two the last stage where I thought maybe things were fixing themselves. Cycling relies on the human body and it is a mystery sometimes. It performs some days and not others. Hopefully I've got the junk out of the system now and will be better this coming week. I'm headed to Holland tomorrow to start Ster Elektro. It's my first time doing the race, so I'm not sure what to expect. Hope I can recover enough to do a strong race. Time will tell!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not a Good Day

Plain and simple, today was a horrible day for our team. A couple of us tried for the breakaway early and ended up paying for it when the KOM's started about 20km in. From there the course and attacks were relentless and zero of our team members made the front group. There are no excuses to be made. I hope that the shame/embarrassment that I feel about today is shared by my teammates and that we use it as motivation over the next two days to be present in the race. That's it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Saving My Legs

Short and sweet: I knew I didn't have the legs to go for top ten in the overall, which unfortunately are really the only positions that matter because of the World Tour points, so I saved my legs to try and win a stage in the next three days. I came here with the mindset of trying to win a stage, so that's what I'm going for. I'll be trying to catch the breakaway each of the next three days, but I'm sure it won't be easy! Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Semi-Soggy Stage 4

Today was the longest stage of the Dauphine at 228km, plus 5.5km of neutral start, and that more than made up for the lack of climbing. Only two guys made up the break of the day, but they really made it quite difficult on the field to bring them back. I thought at several moments in the last ~50km that they were going to make it because they really were holding their gap despite a pretty heated chase. Once again though the field proved too much and when they got real serious about the chase, the gap came down quickly. We had rain in the middle of the stage, which thankfully stopped for the latter part of the stage; although there were ominous clouds producing lightning and a few rain drops as we raced home. The hardest part of the stage by far was the last 15km as the chase was going full gas and then there was a small KOM with 13km to go where a few guys crashed at the bottom. I unfortunately was behind said crash and had to chase like crazy. At the top of the climb I was about 20 meters off the back. I chased down the descent hoping to regain contact, which I thankfully did as the peloton had to navigate a couple city corners that I could take quicker. The unfortunate part of that was that there was a kicker coming out of the city before the final run to the finish. Despite my previous chase, I managed to remain in contact over the top and then fight for my life on the descent. I'm not sure what was happening in front or who was pulling, but I was doing EVERYTHING within my power to just stay in contact at the back. Happily I crossed the finish line with the group and took a few minutes on the rollers to cool down and spin the junk out of my legs. Tomorrow is the beginning of the gc race and the first of four consecutive uphill finishes. If the race wasn't hard enough so far, it will certainly be difficult for the rest. I'm hoping my legs will stay strong and I can help Bauke and Haimar in the gc quest, and if I have an opportunity for the breakaway and stage, I will definitely take it. Au revoir!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Team Time Trials are FUN

No seriously, they are... not really so fun. They are never easy and the pain just grows throughout the entire ride. It is a different animal than the individual time trial because rather than set out on a pace you can hold for whatever distance/time, you need to go above that level while pulling, then when you pull off you need to quickly recover enough in time to be able to jump onto the back of the line then rest a little more before your next pull. It is an exercise in self control because once you go above your limit and can't recover, you will be dropped for sure. And as guys drop off, the recovery gets shorter, which means your pulls come quicker, which means the lactic grows more! All in all, I don't think it is something anyone really look forward to.

So, regarding our team today, I think it is safe to say we are disappointed in our overall "numerical" result, but the time gap is not an insurmountable one looking at the last four stages of the race. There are A LOT of mountains and A LOT of time to be gained and lost. It is probably safe to say we won't be contending for the overall, but our goal coming here was Bauke and Haimar in the top 10, and that is certainly still attainable.

As far as how it happened today, it was a difficult parcours with two pretty long "false flat" climbs where recovery was very difficult. We were immediately at a loss after 5km because Fumy, Calvin, and Popo were all dropped, so that left 5 of us to survive another 19km to the finish. (And we had to finish with 5 because the time is taken on the 5th rider). There is differing opinion on whether or not we hurt ourselves when those guys were dropped so early because maybe they could've pulled on the flat section or even the downhill, but we'll never know. The remaining 5 of us did a good job I'd say. I'll give my suffer award to Markel today because he was left with 4 climbers on a climbing course and he wisely metered his effort to make it to the finish. So other than a debatable tactical error, we gave it our max and that's all that could be asked of us. We're looking ahead to the mountains!