Two days of racing in the bag and doing ok. Unfortunately I don't have any big update or news that I won a stage or anything like that. The racing has been hard, the landscape beautiful, the roads usually nice and the competition tough. This is probably the hardest race I have done so far in terms of competition, terrain and overall race quality/length. After two days I feel pretty good and am hoping to be able to help the team keep our three GC riders in contention. Thursday and Friday will be the pivotal days for sure. Reports on the first two days though:
Day one was a little nervous for me in such a big race, new roads, trying to figure it all out. Long story short, I probably wasted a lot of energy when ideally I wouldn't have. Experience will rectify that situation. At the end of the stage when it was most pivotal, I was in the middle to second half of the peleton and we hit the final climb and it was over. I felt strong, but I was not going to catch the front group. The final climb was about 7km and averaged 11%, but about 3km of that was 20%+. It was probably the steepest climbing I have ever done. It was absolutely insane. Then we had a crazy descent with at least a dozen switchbacks to the finish. I was off the back, so I was just chilling, but still not easy descending (especially when it is not my strong suit, although I am getting better). Finished.
Day two (today), I was feeling alright and my job was to watch for the early move of big teams and 6+ guys. I followed a few moves, but nothing went and eventually a small break got away and the rest of the day was tempo. The course was not easy though, always rolling up and down. As well it had 6 categorized climbs, two of which were pretty tough. My legs were pretty good in the beginning, crap in the middle, and decent toward the end. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the peleton though going into a cross wind and couldn't find a wheel for draft and after a while of that effort my legs blew up, so I was left to ride the last 20ish km with a few other guys who had the same misfortune. A bit unfortunate for sure as I think if I had survived that stretch I would have made it to the line, but I guess my job is more important in the rest of the stages to keep our GC guys up in front.
A couple funny stories from the day, both interestingly involving Team SaxoBank. First, we were rolling through this valley and I found myself behind the infamous Jens Voigt. Let me tell you, that guy creates a vortex from the wind. I didn't even know it was blowing when I was behind him and the wind was pretty stiff today. Funny thing about it was he also had a pleasant smelling deodorant, thought it was funny. Second story was Andy Schleck accidently throwing his coke on me in the middle of the race. He apologized and I said no worries. Not so long afterward I accidently blew my nose on his brother Frank. I apologized and told him it was for his brother throwing his coke on me earlier. A few moments later I was by Andy and told him we were even because I blew my nose on Frank. He said alright and laughed a bit.
Alright, those are it for my stories and updates. I'll try to update again soon.