Getting into the break was not easy task either! Well, actually it wasn't brain science, but the effort required to get there was the part that was not so easy. The attacks started straight from the gun, and I just followed wheels for a little while. When I started to feel that the attacks had a better chance of surviving, I started to follow more intently. It was at that time I found myself following Vincenzo Nibali and feeling strong but also never wanting to quit more! The effort was tremendous. Once into the break, we drove the pace to open the gap. We opened it up to about 3 minutes.
I knew being in the move was really good because all the big teams were represented, and the big names from the week were in there (Sagan, Cunego, Sella and others). I did my best to take my turns while still trying to save energy. The teams in the field who missed the break chased hard, but they realized they were not going to catch us, so they gave up hope about 100km in. When the field hit the feedzone, they all abandoned! It was something I have never witnessed before. That meant I was in the break for the win.
The rest of the stage was nothing special. As we entered the last 30km, the energy level went up and the tension grew. Everything was going fine until the paceline in front of me exploded. Someone in front of me hit a pothole causing them to swerve. A few riders went down, and I got tangled up with another rider eventually hitting the ground myself. Thankfully I was at the grass shoulder by the time I hit the ground. After doing the post crash self-evaluation, I was ok and checked my bike over. By then the team car arrived and the mechanic was checking my bike over. He replaced my rear wheel and I remounted.
I began going and tried to clip into the pedals but couldn't get my right foot to clip in. I looked at my pedal, it was fine. Then I looked at my shoe/cleat and it was nearly gone! In the process of my crash, I was "skiing" on my right shoe trying to avoid and steer out of the crash. During that time, I completely wore away and broke off the back half of my cleat making it impossible to clip in. Now I was in trouble because the race was going away from me and I couldn't pedal!
I told Gallopin (director) what was going on. We searched for my spare shoes, but they were not in the car. Shoot now I was really in trouble. While the search for my shoes and/or a solution was going on, I was busy holding onto the car going 80kph+ and making my way back to the field. That was an experience! The real experience happened though when Craig (the mechanic) treated me like royalty and took my shoe off and replaced the cleat! Getting the shoe off was no doubt something to be seen. Craig (in the rear passenger side seat of the car) was on my left and my right shoe had the broken cleat, so I was holding the car on the back of the front passenger window and bending my leg back/up like a quad stretch over my rear wheel while going 50-kph, and Craig undid the shoe cover and velcro to take my shoe off. It was crazy. I held onto the car and followed behind the field while he replaced my cleat and put my shoe back on. I velcroed the shoes, clipped in and rode back to the field. Although it wasn't perfect, I was still in the race!
Shortly after I got back in, we went down a descent with a small crosswind, and the attacks started to fly. I missed the first move and was forced to chase. Unfortunately I ended up missing the move because of bad tactics and bad legs. I was chasing hard, but when we hit some steep little pitches in a town, my legs were completely blown and I couldn't even follow. It was a horrible feeling. I really felt like I had a chance at a good result because I felt strong, and I had worked so hard to get into the break that day. Disappointingly though, my energy was spent, and my day was done. It was an unsatisfying conclusion to a long, hard week of racing to say the least, but it was also really good because the efforts I did in the week of racing are going to make me really strong for the rest of the season.
I was really happy to hop on the airplane and be on my way home to Lisa, but of course I had a delay and ended up getting in 1.5 hours late. By the time we got home, it was 4am, and we were exhausted. Monday brought a recovery ride, and my body felt destroyed. Tuesday was a welcome rest day. Wednesday was another easy ride, but I felt much better and able to ride the bike. Today I was due for some efforts and went out the door motivated, but in the end, I cut it short despite feeling stronger and nearly fully recovered. Tomorrow I will do my workout and be ready for Paris-Nice starting Sunday. It should be a great race. I am excited to go work for a strong team with high GC hopes for Levi, Jani and/or Kloeden. Stay tuned for some race info as I go. Also check out Versus.com or TV for coverage.
|The remainder of my cleat after the crash.|
Missing 1/2-2/3 of it!