With Tour de Romandie finished now, I have returned home to Girona to begin many new tasks. As always though, the trip home was not without controversy! Let's start with my departure for Liege-Bastogne-Liege and move along to my return from Romandie to Barcelona. I was lucky enough to score a flight from Girona to leave for Liege, or so I thought I was lucky. In the end, it cost me more money because the taxi was about $50, instead of the $35ish it costs me to catch a taxi to the train station and pay for a train to Barcelona. So the war of convenience and price is at play here. It was way more convenient to fly from Girona because I didn't have to leave so early, travel was shorter, etc., but it cost more. Not really worth it as I look back on it.
After Liege I caught a flight from Brussels to Geneva. That one Haimar, Sergio and I almost missed because of a traffic jam on the way to the airport. We arrived and they told us to go to three different counters to check in. We went to one and they said go to another, then to another; so frustrating. Finally we got to the counter and the lady was super grumpy. It was within one hour of our flight and she says, "Your flight is closed now, so you can't fly." What?!?!?! Then she proceeded to tell us that we had to check our carry on luggage because it was more than 6kg (stupid regulation). She asked us why we were late and we explained there was traffic and she fought with us that traffic does not exist on Sunday. We were telling the truth but this lady was convinced that from her all-knowing perch behind her little counter that there was no traffic, that we could not get our flight and that our carry-ons were too heavy. So she gave us a ticket to get through security and to the gate and surprisingly let us take our carry-ons, too. If we made it to the gate on time, our boarding passes would be there, so we booked it! We got to the gate and they weren't even boarding yet. STUPID LADY! All this stress for nothing. Flight to Geneva was no problem, bus ride to hotel was fine.
Then we had Tour de Romandie. I gave you some detail of the first couple stages. The weekend stages were the ones that really mattered. On Saturday, the weather took a turn for the bottom. It was rainy and cooler. That did not prevent a quick start to the stage though. We ripped across the rain soaked roads, strung out from the violent pace of breakaway attempts. I stayed up front looking for a break and after nearly an hour and about 50km, I was in the break! We built a lead of up to 5 minutes, but our break was doomed because we had two guys at 2 minutes on GC (I was unaware of their position until after the stage). All day I just tried to take my pulls and conserve energy because I thought there was a chance this one could go to the line and I knew I had a chance if we got there.
On the descent from the first climb of the day and through the valley on the way to the second, the peleton was chasing hard and closed our gap to less than 2 minutes, so the writing was on the wall, but I had nothing to lose, so I dug deep and stayed with the lead as long as possible. As we approached the second of the days two category 1 climbs, guys began to attack to see how long we could stay off the front. There was a solid uncategorized climb as we approached the category one and that is when things shattered up front. First the Katusha guy attacked, shedding two of our breakaway companions. Then Euskaltel attacked and got a gap. Katusha tried to follow, but was at about 30m. I settled into a tempo and tried to ride back. I closed to Katusha, recovered a bit and then began my attempt to reel in Euskaltel; he had about 50 meters, which on a climb at near full gas is a lot! I was able to bridge the gap to Euskaltel, right as the cat 1 started. I had dropped the Katusha guy, but brought the SaxoBank rider with me. Euskaltel set tempo up the climb. Knowing the field was closing fast, there was nothing to do, but stay off the front as long as possible with the chance of going over the top in the front group, in the lead still or try and help my teammates as they caught me. As the field closed, Jose (director), told me to go for it; I jumped, but my legs were bad, so I didn't get a gap and Euskaltel jumped on my wheel, but SaxoBank dropped. Euskaltel set tempo again. After a few moments, I went again and this time I got a gap and was off on my own. Unfortunately, the field was closing fast and my effort was basically in vain.
After getting caught by the leader(s), I tried to stay with them, but the effort was too much, so I lost contact and drifted to the next group. Too much, next group, too much... I drifted, got over the top, descended and found a group to latch on to. Soaked and tired from the day's effort I tried to eat a bit to hang on to this group, but it was hard and I was starting to get cold, despite the effort. I hung on and got my rain jacket on for a little warmth before the final pitch on the run in. When a couple guys hit that hard, I was finished, rode my own tempo to the line. A good day in the saddle finished.
Sunday's weather was much the same and the stage profile not easy! Started immediately with two category 1 climbs, the first 14km in length. What a brutal start it was. The tempo was fast and the field exploded immediately. I struggled to find a rhythm, but hung on and made it over the top. On the descent, I was gapped with some others due to the incredible fog and wet conditions. At times, I could not see more than 50m in front of me; this is not the ideal condition to be descending a wet, mountain road. At the bottom, we immediately began the second climb and I was able to chase back on. Then I made if over the top and down the next descent no problem. Then it was 50km flat and wet until the final climb. I tried to eat, drink and recover. That done, I was doing my best to protect my leaders. On the final run in, I was trying to keep them up front and protected from the wind, get them any food they needed and take extra clothing. All those jobs done, my day was finished when we hit the base of the final climb. I would like to be in the lead group, but I just settled into a solid rhythm and did my own work up the climb. Over the top I went, descended back to the valley and rode it to the line for the completion of an overall successful Tour de Romandie.
We wrapped up another team GC, but had bad luck on the final descent for Jani, which made him lose the possibility of a podium position. He attacked the group on the final descent, got away, was closing the gap to the leaders, but was struck with incredible bad luck and got the only flat tire our team had all week. At this point in the race, there was no support car close to him and he had to wait. After getting a wheel, he managed to chase back to his original group and cut any losses, but disappointed for sure.
So now, my trip home! Made it to Geneva airport no problem, boarded plane, landed in Barcelona without problem. My suitcase was with the Garmin bus on its way to my home and I was going to catch a taxi with the Garmin boys back to Girona. They weren't on my flight though, so I had to wait for about 30 minutes; no problem for a ride home! I waited and waited and waited... no Garmin guys. It is now 9:20pm and I have lost my opportunity to catch a train to Girona. What the heck! I tried to contact them, but no answer. They knew I was waiting for them. In the end, I had to catch a taxi because I was not going to sleep on the airport floor again. I tried to ask the taxi if he could get me to the train station before the last train left, but due to the language barrier, it just created more controversy. In the end, he brought me all the way to Girona and I paid a pretty Euro for it. Oh well.
This morning I talked with Christian and we figured out what happened. There are two terminals at Barcelona airport and while I flew into the new terminal and waited for them outside the exit there, they flew into the old terminal and caught the taxi! Bummer. Ah well, it happens.
Thanks for reading if you have read all the way to here. Hope you enjoyed the stories. Now I am onto searching for an apartment for Lisa and me because she is going to be here in 10 days!! (or so we think; still need a plane ticket) Peace out!