Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Mighty Großglockner

It never ceases to spice things up when you climb the highest continuous, paved road in Europe! Today was a great team effort by RSLT. It began with Robert getting himself into the break on the first climb of the day. Then George followed some early attacks on the lower slopes of the Großglockner, along with an incredibly strong Ben who was there near the top to help close some gaps when a few attacks were flying. Ultimately it played out that I joined Robert in a chase group at the top of the Großglockner, or more accurately on the descent of the Hochtor just before the final kick to the Fuscher Törl and the big descent to the valley. Once we hit the valley a few guys caught from behind and attacks began immediately. I followed some moves but was never really the aggressor. Then at one moment, there was a group of 8 of us who had split from the rest, and we immediately began rolling. Both Robert and I had made this chase group, so we rode hard because it was good for the GC and for a potential stage win. The eight of us eventually caught the 3 leaders, so now our group was 11. There wasn't great cooperation within our group but we did manage to pull out 1:35 on the group behind. At that point it got real exciting for me because I was the best on GC in our group and I was looking at moving up a lot on GC or potentially taking the yellow jersey. Unfortunately, some teams in the back began pulling for reasons we don't really know, but their efforts combined with dwindling cooperation in our group caused our gap to diminish. I grew frustrated, but I knew any seconds I gained were good and we still had a great chance at the stage win.

The finish was a 2.5km climb that I've done multiple times. I hoped that gave me a small advantage. When we turned onto the climb one guy attacked immediately. I was caught off guard a little bit, it was like I wasn't ready for it to start yet! After a moments hesitation, I followed his attack. Instead of being on his wheel though I was at an awkward ~20 meters behind; kind of funny to think about now. About halfway up the climb Mathias Frank of BMC came across to me, I jumped on his wheel, we closed the gap to the other guy, then Frank attacked immediately. Rather than follow his wheel, I opted to raise my rhythm slowly hoping he would falter a bit and I would come back. Unfortunately he was too strong and I never got back to his wheel. A few guys came from behind and I ended up 4th on the stage. With the time I gained on the group behind I moved up to 5th on GC, so despite the disappointment over the stage, I am happy to gain those few spots back.

Tomorrow is the longest stage of the race at 228km and it also is another short, uphill finish. Hoping I can finish strong again and leave myself in a good position going into Saturday's TT. We'll have to see how it plays out!


Scott K said...

Matt, Looks like you are picking your battles well and riding very well. Stay tough and best of luck!

Cindy said...

Good job. Way to keep your head in it. Thanks for the great play by play.

Anonymous said...

You're looking great, Matt. We are pulling for you in NM.