Stage four is complete and all is still going a-ok. Today’s stage was another dandy for sure. It started off out of the blocks with 13km of climbing. (Insert sarcastic tone) Thankfully it was not a categorized climb, so it really was not difficult! No seriously, this race is crazy. They have a very confusing and random system to categorizing the climbs because there are many climbs that should have been categorized that have not been. Oh well I shouldn’t complain because it really is to my liking. As I was saying, the start was nothing short of hard. Directly the road tilted upward, and the attacks began to fly. The field strung out from the effort and the tired legs everyone was feeling. I believe quite a few guys were dropped, and splits began to occur in the field. At one point, I was in the second group on the road about 30m off the back of the front group containing about 30 guys. I was nervous about it and about to make the jump across to the front group when the pace let up a bit, and we then reintegrated with the front.
Eventually two guys were allowed to go, and the pace became more humane. From the top, it was a quick descent into the next valley while we looked across at our next ascension, a category 2 climb direct from the bottom to the top of the other side of the valley. It was actually pretty cool to see the road twisting up the mountain side. Thanks to the now more moderate pace, the category 2 climb and the following category 1 climb were very manageable. I should also note that there were at least 2 other climbs that should have been categorized, but I will stop with the complaining. Overall the day was very beautiful with nice weather and awesome scenery.
Today’s stage finally allowed the sprinters to have their day with no big climb close to the finish. Unfortunately two things went wrong. The first is that Robbie McEwen got a flat in the final few kilometers for the third or fourth time this season; therefore, RadioShack has no sprinter! The second is that Peter Sagan is some kind of freak and can sprint just as well as he can climb; thus, Alessandro Petacchi did not get his stage win today. For me, I just tried to stay clear of any trouble and avoid any time loss. I think I was successful.
A recap of yesterday’s stage three consists of a very similar theme to today. First was starting with a pretty difficult climb right out of the blocks. Then there were a couple categorized climbs; however, the finish was on the top of a climb. The tempo all day was quite high because Alessandro Ballan from BMC got into the break, and he was only 20-some seconds down on GC. Lampre drove the pace all day. I did my best to eat and drink to keep the energy levels up. When the final climb came, I was in good position and as the pace was driven up by Liquigas causing a lot of riders to be in difficulty, I was able to fight for some decent position. All the fighting was an energy drain, but it is experiences like these that will help me in the end. When the final kick to the line came, I lost contact because a couple guys in front of me got tangled up, and I had to shut it down and restart my sprint. Overall, the third stage was strong for me. I am happy with where my early season form is, and how my experiences from last year are already beginning to pay off for me.
Tomorrow’s stage is another solid day in the saddle. It has a number of climbs in it and finishes on a category 2. I think tomorrow might end with the break being successful and the rest of the peleton taking it to the line in a relatively civilized fashion. Only the situation in the race tomorrow will tell though. The weather will hopefully hold good again. Thanks for checking in!