Thursday, April 4, 2013

Basque 2 & 3

Hello hello. Here's the update. Stage 2 was mostly uneventful. We decided to conserve our energy as much as possible because it was the only stage almost guaranteed to be a sprint finish, so the sprinter's teams would surely control it. Jens made a valiant late race attack, but he didn't quite make it. I was caught behind a crash as we ran into the final climb, but thankfully I didn't get held up too much and made it in good position over the top for the twisty, fast descent. There are almost always splits on the descent, so I was happy to have stayed in the front group. Then I thought I was in good position for the final few kilometers, but somehow I was again shuffled way to the back. I didn't lose time though, so that was the most important.

Stage 3 brought on a new challenge. It began with a flurry of attacking lasting for at least an hour. Finally a break of 5 or 6 guys went, so we could settle into a rhythm for the day. I ate and drank early knowing that the final 50km of the race were going to be hard. The tension in the race rose noticeably once we hit the category 3 climb at km 105. From there it was a battle. The team worked great together to maintain a good position in the field. The next climb at km 130 was a category 2 of 6km at 6%. This was definitely a pivotal moment, and we played it perfect with Haimar being first through the corner with Kloedi and Andy on his wheel, then Jens and me a few guys back. I think the field exploded a bit on this climb because it had the feel of a final climb to it. A guy from FDJ went full gas for the first half or so, then Movistar kept the pace high to the top. I'm sure everyone was suffering a lot. After the top, the pace stayed high and the race was obviously on. We rode over another category 3 climb, along with numerous other uncategorized "bumps", and guys really were suffering. As we approached the base of the final climb, the field was actually pretty big.

The approach to the climb was familiar for me because we had done it in training, as well as in 2010 when I rode this race for the first time. Instead of fight for the position immediately before, I hung back knowing there was a long false-flat drag before the turn where the peleton always balloons, and you can make a move around the outside at the last moment. It worked out pretty well, but I was maybe a few guys too far back. I didn't have to slow down at all, but as we crested the first steep part, the guys in front of me had opened a gap, so I had to chase over a flatter part to regain contact with the first group. I remained calm and made it back pretty easy actually, but that's when I touched my pedal. I was coming back to the group just as we entered a really weird off-camber, uphill righthand corner, and I must have pedaled when I was on the crown of the road or something because I touch the ground with my pedal and was then laying on the ground in under a second. I got up, gathered my senses, did a quick self-evaluation, felt the rush of pain/adrenaline from the impact, then remounted and began again. By this time, the field was a ways ahead and not slowing down. I rode in to the finish hard, but I had lost my rhythm and some motivation, so carrying on was a little difficult. I was definitely disappointed to crash because I had pretty good feelings, so who knows how I could have faired in the final. I guess I'm happy not to be injured badly, and hopefully I can find those good feelings for the coming days and try to fight for a stage.

Today's stage is the usual queen stage with a 7km climb making the final quite difficult. We actually do the climb twice, passing it with 35km to go, then making a small lap back to it for the final ascent. It is always a fun/exciting stage because the fans on top are insane. It looks like the weather today has turned from sun to rain. It will definitely make the stage more difficult, but I imagine the efforts on the climbs will keep the cold to a minimum! Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Scott K said...

Glad to hear your tumble was not serious. Nice posting of the event - really appreciate your description of the action. Ride hard!