Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The "Flat" Stage

Today looked like a day for the sprinters, but deceptive is the term I will use to best describe it. The profile showed a short 138km route which was mostly flat. However, it turns out the stage was actually quite hilly with almost 1800m of climbing. By all means, that is not a flat day. In the end, it came down to a group of about 25 sprinting for the win.

The pivotal point in the race today was a short but nasty climb that turned downhill only 4.3km from the finish. The run into the climb was a bit chaotic because the roads were the typical rolling, twisty, coastal (sandy), Italian roads with the added spice of some rain just to keep things interesting. I was able to get into good position for the turn into the base of the climb; however, I found myself in the wrong gear despite my “preparatory” shift before the turn. Once I was able to get the gear going and shift again, I had things rolling and the key moment(s) of the race were happening.

The climb started with a few solid rollers followed by their counterpart downhill. After a solid day of up and down, these rollers were anything but easy as evidenced by the last remaining member of the day’s break feeling the effects and returning to the peleton. I presume he might have shortly thereafter been exiting the peleton, too. I used the beginning rollers to move myself up a little bit more before what I was expecting to be the final, nasty pitch to the top. For sure I was correct because it was not long and the road turned up in earnest. Thanks to good position and my legs being pretty good today, I made it over the top in the front group. Down the mildly sketchy descent and to the finish was all that remained between me and being on lead time heading into tomorrow’s category 1 summit finish.

Descending... Shoot! Pothole… psss-sss-sss-sss. Puncture. Game over. No run to the finish for me. Thankfully though, there is a rule about mechanical issues in the last 3km of the race. This goes something to the effect of “the rider will be placed last in the group in which he was riding when the mechanical issue occurred.” Luckily, this rule saved me, and I was awarded the same time as the front group. That means tomorrow I start same time as the leader (down however many seconds for time bonuses for the win today) and have a chance to contest of the race assuming my legs are good, and I am there at the finish.

All that said the weather was decent most of the day today. It didn’t start raining until about 30km to go. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be good I think, so that is always a nice way to take on a 200km stage with 3 categorized climbs that finishes on a category 1. I hope the legs are good tomorrow! I should also put in a plug for my all-star teammate and roommate Ben King for doing some solid work on the front today. He was very instrumental in bringing back the break. Thanks dude!

On a side note, I had an “ah-ha” moment today. I was riding along and noticed how big one of my teammates calf muscles were. I thought for a moment it was Kyle Jacobsen but then realized it was Popo. It made me smile and laugh a little, so I thought I might share that for a little humor for those who know Kyle “big calves” Jacobsen.

I can’t wait for dinner tonight, but I hope they don’t run out of food again like last night. I think they were surprised by the amount of food cyclists can consume! The same happened this morning at breakfast, but it affected me less because the team generally has food (cereals and such) that is supplies/puts out for breakfast. That stuff at least takes care of the pre-race meal. Ok, enough of my ramblings for today. I’ll do my best to update tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the fast updates! The best race coverage is first hand accounts like yours!

Cindy said...

Great account. Looking forward to more. Would have been great if it was Kyle!!!

Anonymous said...

Great start. The second stage plays to your strengths. Good luck! M & J

Anonymous said...

Las Cruces por vida. Keepin it real in the 575!