Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Best Plans Are Unplanned

It was an interesting and exciting stage 8 for us yesterday. After a very long and confusing neutral start (~45 minutes), we were finally racing; hard, too. The fight for the break was heavily contested despite the fact it seemed imminent that the gc battle wouldn't allow the breakaway to arrive for the stage win. In any case, guys continued to attack, keeping the pressure on, even splitting the field into three groups at one point. As we battled over the rolling hills, you could feel people beginning to get tired and the hope for the break to go. Eventually a fairly large group began to form in front. Without Katusha, Astana, Movistar, or SaxoBank present, it wasn't a problem for us because we wouldn't be forced to ride in the peloton. Then a Movistar made an attack to go across, so I quickly jumped to cover his move, which landed me in the breakaway for the day. It wasn't the plan, but it was important we were there.

At first the field wouldn't give us more than 2 minutes because there was a rider from NetApp only 45 seconds down on the gc. Unfortunately the sport is full of bullies, and the guys in the breakaway decided it was silly to be out there with this rider there, so we stopped riding until he decided to go back to the field and let the rest of us soldier on. With this rider gone, the field now gave us a little more leash, but they never let us go much more than 4 minutes. Our group rode well together, but there wasn't much we could do against a motivated peloton. I was happy to be in the break because I knew I would have a good chance to either win the stage or help the team toward the end. In order to win the stage I knew I would need a minimum of 2 minutes starting at the base of the climb, but as we approached the start, the gap tumbled dramatically to around 1:20. At that point, I knew my job was going to be to help the team further up on the climb.

The first ramps of the climb were quite steep with the first 2.5km averaging 11%. Our breakaway began to splinter under the pressure of some attacks along with the difficulty of the climb. I followed the first moves to help myself get a little further up the climb and past the most difficult part before the peloton would catch us. I was listening in the radio to what was happening behind, hearing that Fabian was doing a great job pulling the start of the climb. I was still with the leaders, but let them go and took my own rhythm to recover a little, knowing that once the field caught me I was going to need to set the tempo. Jose was also telling me in the radio to wait and recover. Around 9km to go, Fabian brought the field to my wheel and I took over the pace making. I took up my own rhythm to keep the pressure high. I rode the front until about 3.5km to go when attacks started going. Once Chris followed one of the moves, I knew my job for the day was done. I bid them farewell and good luck and rode "easy" to the finish drinking fluids and eating some food to begin my recovery for the following days. It wasn't necessarily the plan for the day to have me in the break or take control on the final climb, but it worked out well for us, even if we didn't end up taking the jersey back or winning the stage. Two more tough stages/finishes before the first rest day. Stay in touch to see what happens.


daveR said...

great to see you powering the climb and leading the peloton for Horner CHAPEAU!

Anonymous said...

Great job, impressive to watch. Hope you can heal and recover during the rest day.

Fan from Decorah