Sunday brought on the GP Plouay in France: 259km in 6 hours and 52 minutes. Wow, I believe the longest day I have ever had in the saddle; at least top 3 behind maybe only Horribly Hilly in Madison and a ride or two I have done in training this year. Anyway, by the end of the day, I had enough.
I entered the race with high hopes, but a week plus of poor sleep and a slight twinge of sickness put a damper on those hopes. Not completely out of it though, I took the start hoping for a good result or a good day's work for the team. It began with the necessary establishment of the break. This race had no neutral start, which was nice for a change. After about 400 meters, guys had enough of the tranquility and it was none other than a guy from one of the French teams that hit out. He was immediately followed by several others and the race was on.
I say it was "none other than a guy from one of the French teams..." because they are notorious for attacking and racing in a more attacking manner. Plus it was a French race, so they indeed have to be in the breakaway for sponsors, media, etc.
I was at the front and did my best to stay in pursuit, but the instant efforts put serious burn in my legs and I could do nothing to propel myself toward the leading riders. I tried to get my legs back with hopes of jumping across, but it was over; the break was gone and the rest of the day would be spent in the field. We had Ivan Rovny in the break and it was a good situation for us.
The next several hours were spent going round and round on the near 20km circuit trying to eat, hydrate and conserve energy for the end. The circuit was no cake walk though and the rolling hills ate into my legs. I did my best to try and protect Haimar in the middle of the race, but eventually we got separated and I fell toward the rear of the field. At this convenient moment, the pace began to escalate and my weakened body wanted nothing of it. Each lap that passed I wondered where I would be dropped and if it was going to be close to the bus or not. The bus acted as a magnet to my head and each time we passed the finish line I felt more like dropping out, taking a shower and napping. My throat bothered, my body felt weird and my legs burned. I did not quit though and made it until the last lap just dangling on the back of the field.
It is actually kind of depressing riding on the back of a 200+ rider field knowing that you need/want to be at the front, but you aren't there. I don't know what my excuse is for yesterday, but once I was in the back, I couldn't bring myself to make the effort or take the risks to be in the front. Yes, I kick myself for it, but I must move on. I know I am still learning and eventually I will be there.
Anyway, last lap, I was dangling and think I could have made the pace with the main bunch, but due to being at the back, I got separated when others came unhitched and I had to try and close gaps. Who knows, maybe I could have chased back on, but for what? Yes, not a good attitude, but I didn't feel up for putting myself so deep into pain to regain contact at the back and then completely gut myself to make it to the end for nothing other than maybe top 100. It was a long day and my head was not 100%, so I didn't make it. There will be more races and I will make it right then. Overall, the Shack didn't have any results to speak of besides Ivan's long, hard day in the break with a still respectable finish, so kudos to him.
For me, it is on to getting healthy and refocused. Not sure the rest of the racing program. I fly back to the US on Thursday and that is the only important thing to me right now. Check back later for more information. Adios from Spain.