I'm finally getting a moment this morning to update on the race. It has been hectic with late finishes, long transfers and taking care of all the other business. Anyway, stages four and five have elapsed since my last post I think. The basic overview is that my legs and condition seem to be pretty good, but I have been stricken with poorly timed mechanicals and poor positioning in the peloton.
Stage four was a real disappointment for the team. We have three guys here to contend for a good gc position, and all of us lost time due to bad position on the last of the local circuits. There was a real nasty little climb on the local circuit that summited about 3k from the finish. It was a real fast descent through town to the finish, so if you weren't with the front group over the top, you weren't going to make it back. All three of us went over the top in contact but kind of far back. It was all good at that point, but then somebody opened a gap on the descent, and there was absolutely no way for us to close it down. It was really difficult because this race is usually decided by so little time. That was my second bad luck of the day, too. I got a puncture at the base of the climb about 40k to go in the race. This climb was on another lap we did twice in the middle of the race and a bit longer than the local/finishing circuits. It was really bad timing because the tempo was increasing and the field was strung out, so it took a long time to get my wheel changed and get going again. Once I got going, I rode a good tempo through the carnage, but I didn't make contact by the top. I rejoined Popo just at the top, and he helped me descend and pace through the valley to try and catch the group. I don't think we would have caught them, except they decided to sit up for some reason. That was good news for me, but I had burned some energy for sure. That's all part of racing though.
Stage five did not turn out quite as we expected. The circuit was quite difficult and totaled 3000m of climbing by the end, but it came to a field sprint. Some of the pure sprinters were dropped, but it was a very large group, not the 20 or less we were expecting. For me, I had a mechanical with about 20k to go. I wasn't sure what happened, but my chain jumped off and got wrapped around my derailleur. I got it back on, but then my shifting was messed, and if I tried to use anything other than my 53x12 (biggest gear), the chain would jump all over the place. That meant I couldn't stand up or pedal without feeling like I was going to go over the handlebars or without grinding a huge gear. Thankfully the speed was high enough I could push it out most of the way, but the last km grind uphill was tough. After the race, I looked to see what the problem was, and I had no top pulley left on my derailleur. It was only the bearing. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but it explained why I was having trouble! I was disappointed to have the mechanical though because I felt good and was motivated to stick my nose in the action. I think I could have made a good finish if I had a fully functioning bike, but just like the flat on stage four, that is part of racing!
Today is the queen stage with over 4000m of climbing and an uphill finish. I can guarantee there will not be a big group at the finish today, but I will also guarantee I will do my best to be in the small group that does finish together. There will definitely be fireworks on the final climb to the line, and I am hoping I have the legs to be a part of them. It is another circuit today, so we will see the finish several times before the finale, which will be helpful. Hoping for a good finish to jump close to top 10 in gc. Today is the last chance, RadioShack is going to try!
Side note, I think I might have to find a fine Polish sausage after the race because I wanted to stop at the big party/BBQ they were having in the finish area yesterday. It smelled quite nice every time we rolled through!