The last day of racing was fast. It was not a part of the stage race, instead a separate one day race, so all the teams came out firing with nothing to protect (the lead) and nothing to lose. It was a furious pace from the start with the attacks flying from everywhere. I was in a few moves and in one I thought might have made it, but not to be. It was actually right after my move that the final big split happened. An unusually large 31 man split happened and we had 4 guys in: a good situation. We were one of the strongest teams for sure and this was good for our chances of the win. With this group gone and the big teams represented and seeming to be happy, I thought it would just be a nice last day of racing and training. Well, things were not settled. Two different teams went to the front in succession and blew up their teams with in the span of about 30 kilometers. Then a stronger team, DeRosa, came to the front and set a hard tempo for the rest of the day. It was fast!
The profile of the stage was not bad looking on paper, but it was by no means easy! Up and down all day. In fact, there were even a few legitimate climbs that were not really of note on the race profile. Long story short, the stage was pretty hard, pretty fast and here is the rest of the story...
The break was never more than 3 minutes up on the field and most of the day hovered around 2:30. With this being the situation, there was still the potential to reel them in and make it a sprinters finish; Alessandro Petacchi was in our group, certainly a favorite to win the stage. With about 35km to the finish, Lampre took over the pace setting and closed the gap to about 75 seconds with only about 15km left. Realizing the catch was not going to happen, they sat up and we rode gruppetto the rest of the day. Statistics: 170km at 47.5kmh average = quick. The stage was difficult and never boring, that is for sure. It was a good end to a successful week of racing as my first experience in Europe.
Now back in Girona I am resting a bit in preparation for a solid block of training before solid racing in April and May. I'll be in touch! Cheers.