Sunday, June 16, 2013

One Week Removed

Hey everyone, it's been a week since the Dauphine wrapped, and I'm finally coming back to life. My apologies that it has taken me so long to write. Lisa picked me up after the final stage, and we went immediately into "seclusion" on a small holiday to take advantage of my mid-season break. I'll fill you in on that in the next post! As for the final stage of the Dauphine, we finally got the weather that had been holding out the entire week. It was nice we didn't have it all week, but man was it miserable on Sunday! It drizzled the whole stage, and there were reports of snow on the KOM of Col de Vars, but I never saw a snow flake. Admittedly though, I had my mind focused on other things! At the start of the stage, I wanted to get into the break, but I got boxed in when the first moves were going. Then I was caught a little off guard when a second group of guys jumped after the move was pretty well established. Markel got himself into the first selection to make sure our team was represented.

Sky took immediate control of the peleton to ensure chaos didn't ensue, and to do everything they could to protect the lead of Froome. They drove the field all day, keeping the break at a reasonable distance. We rolled over a couple smaller KOMs enroute to the category 1 Col de Vars, whose summit and 20km descent immediately preceded the final 14km climb to the finish. Despite my best efforts, I spent much of the stage freezing. My upper back/lower neck were incredibly tense/cramped from being cold, and my hands and feet were numb to the point that I basically couldn't feel my bike. I wasn't certain I was going to make it over the Col de Vars. When we hit the base, I battled to be in the front to give myself the best chance. My legs immediately protested, but I fought the battle with my head, and after nearly losing contact, I latched onto the train and suffered to the top. I think the biggest part of my motivation was to try and get warm! Everything but my feet did in fact warm up, but my feet were unfathomably uncomfortable. Despite the fact that they were completely numb, there was a burning sensation on the bottoms of my toes/ball of my foot. That made it impossible for me to get any feeling of the pedals or comfort in my shoes, too. I was really struggling.

After the KOM, Sky kept the pace going on the descent. We had Haimar, Tony, and me in the front group, so our situation was pretty good. During the descent, everyone was a little cautious due to the weather conditions. It was a twisty descent, so the wet made it pretty nerve-wracking, plus at one point we were in fog so dense you couldn't see more than 10-20 meters in front of you, then all of the sudden we popped out below the fog! It is amazing how the mountains can influence the weather. At one point during the descent, we crossed a town with some square, four-sided speed bumps in each lane. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but all the sudden there were guys crashing. I hit my brakes out of instinct and immediately began to look for my escape route. The only place to go was a small and ever shrinking gap between the SaxoBank rider crashing to the floor and a wooden bridge railing. Amazingly I made it through the gap, but it wasn't without kicking the rider (very hard I might add and accidentally of course) and nearly going over the bridge into who knows what. I had to breathe a big sign of relief when I made it through. It wasn't until later that I realized it was Contador who had crashed. Whoops! I hope he didn't get too big of a bruise from my shoe/pedal! He made it back to the group before the descent finished though, so I think he was ok.

We finished the descent and immediately found ourselves starting the final climb. Everyone scrambled to take off their rain jackets, so they wouldn't over heat on the final climb. It was pretty chaotic! Eventually things settled down and Sky did what they do, setting a hard tempo to wear the remaining riders down. The climb was a pretty big road, so I think the difficulty of the final climb was a bit deceptive. Nonetheless, it was a fast climb, and I think it was one I would usually do well on; however, my body had enough and I could not find any rhythm. I hung on as long as I could, but when Tony decided to attack at about 6km to go, I was gapped. I soldiered on to try and salvage something, but there was nothing left really. I crossed the line just happy to be finished freezing and finish a hard week of racing. Looking back at it, I'm proud of the week. I had a solid stage 5 and a pretty good overall placing in 19th against a solid field of racers. Thanks for checking back in. Come back soon to see a little bit about Lisa and my holiday in the Alps!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A little karma to Alberto for costing you a win??