I thought this published earlier, but here it is anyway!
Wednesday's time trial was a good test for me. I hadn't done a time trial of that length before, so it was really good for figuring out if I have the potential for it or how it makes the body feel. With no pressure on me, it was a really good information gathering "tool", and it turned out to be a pretty decent result. During the time trial, I felt pretty strong. I kept a good high cadence up and over both of the climbs, but I did struggle on both the false flat sections over the top of them. I know I lost time there, but it is just something to work on. I also caught both my one and two minute man, so that provided a little extra motivation. Biggest adversity I faced was a fogging visor on my helmet, and a wet descent from the second climb. The visor I ripped off and threw away because I could see through it! The descent I navigated with "careful precision". Luckily I had seen it earlier in the morning, but it was still dangerous. Nonetheless, I made it to the line safely and was happy with the day.
Thursday was a day for the sprinters. The field stayed under the control of Team Sky, and in the end, it was a bunch kick. I had a small bit of excitement in the last 20km of the stage when I got a "flat". I say "flat" because after the stage, the mechanics told me I did not have one! Whatever, I guess I just felt like I needed the extra interval. Came to the line no problem, day finished. Earlier in the stage, I carried on a nice conversation with Robert Gesink for probably 30+ minutes. It was quite pleasant. He is a very nice guy. I also talked with Dimitriy Fofonov from Astana. He and I first met while we suffered up the final climb of Criterium International earlier this year after being dropped. We caught up on our seasons thus far and had a nice chat.
Friday, the race took no prisoners. It was flat out from the gun. I was in the front for the first attacks and saw Sky was trying to put a man in the break to avoid working for the day, so I immediately went to the front and started "pulling". I say "pulling" here because my effort was pathetic. My legs were so blocked that I could hardly turn the pedals. I tried in vain to muster more power and/speed, but it wasn't happening. Thankfully, I kept the group close enough that some other guys started attacking, and it all came back together. From there, it was nonstop attacking for the next 90 minutes or more. It was relentless. We went over a category two climb, and I threw down an attack to try and help weaken guys more and get Sergio off the front, with a counterattack, but nothing was breaking what was left of the field. I think it wasn't until 100km in that somehow JMac just rolled off the front of the field and was solo for the next 100km. We thought he might have the stage win, but a few teams had different ideas and decided to start pulling. They pulled really hard, too. It was really difficult considering the start of the stage and difficulty of the terrain. I did my best to eat and drink to refuel my body after the effort of the start knowing the finish was not going to be easy.
JMac did really well to hold his own, but it is nearly impossible to hold off a charging peloton, so his fate was sealed, and he was caught inside 10km to go on the final climb. The final climb was not so steep, but it was long and fast. I stayed with the lead group until about 4km to go when the big attacks started. The efforts of those attacks was a little too much for me. I knew it was better not to go into the "red zone" and blow up, so I rode my own pace and kept them close. Overall, it was a really tough day of racing, but I am satisfied with how it turned out. The team is only 13 seconds down on the team GC right now, which is one of our goals for this race. The next two stages will be vital for the win there. Biggest explosions are going to happen over the next two stages, so there could be big changes in the race standings. Stay tuned!