Saturday, March 23, 2013

Catalan Smash Fest

Today's sixth stage of Volta Catalunya was fast, furious, and dare I say, a little fun (in hindsight)! We had 180km on tap with a couple climbs near the finish that were expected to spice things up a bit. There was plenty of spice without those climbs though! It took about 400m for the first attack to fly, but after that it was bonkers for over 2hrs. We did our fair share of attacking, trying all we could to get into the break. I was in several moves that I thought were good, but the entire peleton was motivated to be in the break today. Evidently everyone's legs recovered a bit after yesterday's relatively easy stage. As we approached the hour mark though, it was evident the field was getting tired. The attacks were still flying, but no one had the power to stay away. Finally as we hit the beginning ramps of the category 1 climb around 100km into the stage, a group of 10 guys established a gap. I think everyone decided that was enough, and there was a brief lull, brief.

The break was given about 40 seconds before the pace continued on. As we climbed, the weather turned kind of ugly. The temperature dropped significantly, and it began to rain, even hail on the top. I decided to go back to the car for my rain jacket and some nourishment, and I'm very glad I did. One, the rain jacket kept me from being pelted by the hail and kept me just a little bit warmer. And two, I was able to get a couple bars, gels, and fresh bottles given that we flew through the feedzone at mach 5, so grabbing for a mussette was dangerous and impossible. From the top, we did some big rollers, a small descent, a little more climbing, then a long, fast descent on a small, twisty road before connecting with the bigger, national road we would be on for the final climb and run into the finish.

The break was never given more than a minute thirty, so the pace never relented. We hit the final climb and BMC tried to make a big acceleration. The field strung out from the effort and a small cross-headwind. I was too far back when the climb started, so I fought to get near the front as the peleton stretched out. Thankfully I made it over the top with the lead group, and it was full gas to the finish. I contemplated an attack in the final few km, but the pace was too high, and I got swarmed as we entered the twists and turns on the run into the city. I crossed the line feeling plenty exhausted though. Brief stats are 180km in 3:56 with 2000m of climbing. We have good reason to be tired tonight! Time to go refuel because I don't expect tomorrow will be any walk in the park.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Great recap, Matthew. Good luck to you and the team on the final stage.