It has been a good first few days of racing here at the Dauphine. Rain greeted us for the morning of the prologue, but most of us got lucky with the weather and roads turning dry for the ride. I felt good on my ride. The experience on the TT bike is getting better for me. I am learning much better how to handle it and ride the position. It is an art that takes practice, believe me! I placed 21st I think, which was good for me. I thought for a moment I might be top ten, but then the roads stayed dry and the big hitters came out to play!
Stage one was good weather with abundant sunshine and beautiful scenery. The finish was less than extraordinary for me personally, but Jani kept himself in the front, so no problems there. I got caught at the back again and struggled to try and get to the front. Then as the final climb approached, we went through a nearly dark tunnel and some guys in front of me crashed. At that point, I had to try and regain momentum and position, but the energy and position I had lost made it nearly impossible to come back. I'm still learning, and it was a good reality check about how hard things are here in the European peloton.
Stage two saw the return of the rain. It was pretty nasty for the first 3 hours of the stage, but then it dried up for the run into the finish. Stage two was good for me. I was able to find better positioning at the right moment and made it to the first group when there was a big split in an unexpected crosswind section. I was able to help bring Jani with me, too, which was important for him and the overall. A big group from behind was able to chase back with the power of Team Sky and BMC chasing because Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins had missed the split. At that point, it was inside 10km to go, and I did my best to keep Jani near the front because it was a technical run into the finishing climb. I brought him to the front one last time about 2.5km to go. Then I got nervous with all the swarming and craziness and disappeared! I felt good about doing the job for Jani though and know I can make up a lot of time on the gc in the coming mountain days (if I am having a good day!)
Today is the TT. It is 42km with two hard climbs in it. Basically it goes up, up, down, up, up, down, flat to finish. We previewed the course this morning. I don't know if it is better or worse to know what is coming! For now, I am staying relaxed and just going to give it my best shot. I have nothing to lose! I'll try to report back on it later, and I'll include some review on my first couple days in the stars and stripes. Bye!