The stage started with some interesting tactics by GreenEdge trying to put a man in the break, indicating that they were probably not going to defend the jersey. A small break finally rolled without them, but it took a long time for them to decide it was their responsibility to control the race today. Really they got off quite easy though because shortly after they started pulling, the wind began to play a big roll with constant direction changes and variable cross winds meaning that a lot of teams, including us, took an interest in keeping their leaders at the front, which ultimately meant basically pulling.
Everything was going fine for us until the feedzone. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I believe a team attacked through the narrow and twisty feedzone, which split the field into pieces. We got caught out very badly with Andy and Jakob in the back because they had stopped with a lot of other riders for a nature break. I dropped back to wait with Ben and Laurent. We pulled full gas for 15km+ to bring them close as we hit the first climb of the day. I tried to recover as we climbed and was able to come back and pull again until Wiggins, who was also caught out, attacked about 1km from the top. Thankfully Jakob and Andy followed and they made it back to the peloton.
I unfortunately did not make it. I was caught by the "Movistar" chase group containing Valverde who had crashed in the feedzone and took the wheel there. They chased hard, but the peloton was gone. At the end of the day, Jakob made the front group, so I feel good knowing my efforts were not for nothing because I helped save our team leader. Obviously I feel a little disappointment in not being in the front myself because it was my "local" stage, and I had hopes of a possible good overall myself, but I had to do my job.
Tomorrow's stage is going to be a doozey. It covers 210km with 4 big climbs, the final 2 being beyond category. It will be a long, difficult day in the saddle, and I am hoping my legs will recover well tonight, so I can be there to help my teammates again. I also hope all this talk of cold, wet, possibly snow weather is just talk. Adios.