The final stage in Wallonie was a big war and a little too close/scary for comfort. It took the 85km to the feedzone for a break to finally establish itself today. It was crazy and hectic. The team did a great job of maintaining the strength though and kept things under control. Honestly we actually didn't have to do a ton of work because guys kept attacking and closing gaps on themselves. It was just stressful and a little annoying.
As predicted, the time bonuses played a huge roll in the day's affairs. Lotto was a big instigator in the action for the bonus sprints because their guy was within striking distance if he was able to take some bonus seconds at the sprints or the finish. At the first sprint, Giacomo was able to take second I think, which ended up being the difference between winning and losing. Meersman from Lotto had won that first sprint, so he was now 7 seconds behind, but what were the chances he could win the stage, right?! Well, it came down to less than half a wheel. Incredibly, Meersman had taken second and gained the 6 second bonus on the finish, so Giacomo won by a mere second. We actually thought Meersman had won the stage and therefore the overall, but luck was on our side that he had actually taken second. PHEW! So after the dust settled, and we knew we had defended the yellow, it was joy and celebration for a hard week's work.
And on a random side note, I don't know if anyone saw the last 12ish km of today's stage, but holy cow was it chaos. I was luckily in the front, but all the road furniture, small roads, and turns were surely not any fun for anyone more than 30 guys back. I guess it's all part of the Belgian experience, and I survived it!
My week of racing in Belgium was of course fun because we won, but I also felt strong and raced well. I'm happy with my condition and where I seem to be heading, so hopefully it bodes well for the upcoming races. Now I'm on my way back to Barcelona for the night. Then tomorrow morning Lisa and I are off to the USA! Next up is Utah. Stay tuned!