Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Oman Stage Two

As was expected, there were some late race fireworks today. To be honest, it was largely a very boring day. After a bit of crazy neutral start where the race director car took us into a sandy/rocky roundabout at 40kmh without warning, the real race started, and the breakaway went after maybe 5km. From there it was a SLOW next couple hours. After two hours, I had done a mere 800-some kilojoules (calories burned). I usually do close to that in one hour of training at home! Not really complaining though because that just means I am saving energy for the coming days. I ate a bit and drank a lot to keep myself fueled for the finale. There was a notable change in the peloton's attitude at one point. It was obvious things were about to get real.

The run into the first climb was through the city, and it got hairy. I lost my nerve and position a little bit, so I started mid-pack, but the road was pretty wide, and I had no problem being in the front as we crested the first of the late race challenges. From there we raced through the mountains on a smaller road. We decided to take control of the field for safety. I unfortunately had lost my position at the front at this point, so I was left in the chaos behind. Thankfully I had ridden the road on the training day before the race, so I had a small idea what to expect. I stayed calm until we made it out onto the big road again. Once we made it to the big road, we had a few kilometers before the second climb of the final. When we hit that climb, Sky took control and drove it. The field strung out, guys exploded, and I clawed my way to the front. After the summit of that one, there was a short downhill prior to the final climb of the stage.

I knew that this last pitch was going to be the decisive one because the summit was only 3km from the finish, and those final 3km included a screaming downhill, followed by a fairly flat run in that included a small bump in the last km. When we hit the final climb, I followed an attack that included Contador, Froome, Evans, and a couple others. It soon fizzled, but I decided my best choice individually and team-wise was to keep driving. I kept putting the power into the pedals, but guys soon began attacking across the road. It was a wide road, so it made things a bit difficult. As we approached the summit, everyone from behind made their final jumps. Already on my limit, I was unable to convince my legs to do the final sprint to catch the tail of the 10-15man group. Immediately I was disappointed knowing I had just missed a golden opportunity to help the team (we still had Cancellara and Tony in there) and for myself. I kept pedaling and was caught at the bottom of the descent by a hard charging "main" group, maybe 30 guys. BMC was chasing full gas because they didn't have anyone in the front group, and Evans and Gilbert were in this chase group. I found the wheel and recovered as we closed the gap. I was surprised when we caught the first group, but happy to have finished with the majority of the leaders. Sagan had already gone before we caught them, and Tony was in a move of his own to take second on the stage. That puts us in a good position as we look to the rest of the race. Tomorrow's stage 3 is the longest at 190km, but I don't imagine we will see any shake ups in gc; that should happen on stage 4. Hope you enjoyed the read!


Scott K said...

Glad to see you are in the thick of it so far - boring is hard to imagine but no doubt good for future attacks. Great pics of hotel - beautiful! Keep the pressure on and leave the skiddish nerves at the hotel. Ride hard and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Really nice to get some inside info on each stage. Very informative posts.