Thursday, February 13, 2014

Good legs, mostly good position, poor luck, and a circus finish

Today's first stage in Tour de Med had the makings to be a dandy and it looked like it might not come to fruition, but that all changed after about 140km. The area we were riding in is typically very windy, so it was quite possible that the day would be riddled with crosswinds, for 223km! Whether it was luck or not, the start was very calm conditions. A group of guys went away relatively quickly and then the winds were pretty calm. Giant Shimano took up the pace making for their sprinter John Degenkolb, who did end up winning, so chapeau to them/him. Their speed was quite impressive from the get go and everyone was content to sit on. We rode for 3-3.5hrs without a lot of stress, but then there was that moment when the tension rose and everything began to change. The winds began to pick up and things got interesting. I don't know who was the first aggressor, but someone started to try and split it, so the chaos ensued.

I was well positioned and was in the front group until I followed the guys in front of me the wrong way around a roundabout. I wasn't trying a shortcut or anything, simply following the wheels in front of me and in the heat of the moment. Next thing I knew I was at the end of the road/driveway we ended up in, crossing the gravel, then grass, then dismounting, hopping a ditch, remounting, and sprinting to try and catch the tail of the echelon as BMC drilled it at the front. I wasn't really even close to making the front group after all the diversion and was super disappointed. The group I ended up in caught the group in front of us, which amazingly did eventually catch the first group. It was a long, hard, stressful period of racing.

The stress didn't stop there though. With constant turns and changes in direction, small roads, and varying winds, the tension in the peleton kept growing. It was evident that people were starting to get worn down though. The breakaway was caught quite early due to the chaos, so some attacking started again, but it never amounted to much. The bigger problems came in the final 20km of the stage when the roads became even smaller and sillier. I don't usually complain about a race parcours because I know (or at least hope) that the organizer does his/her best to look out for our safety and make a good course. Today however was a different story in my mind. The circus act of a finishing circuit with numerous turns containing medians, twisty, rough roads, and the tension of the finish led to my ultimate demise. Despite my fight for position and placement in the front of the peleton, I got caught up in a bottleneck in one of the turns with the medians, which then led to being at the back of the crosswind echelon, which led to chasing/wasting energy into and onto a critical climb near the finish. That was amplified then when a guy in the middle of the field crash or slipped a chain causing a road blockage in front of me, so I lost all my momentum and had to try and regain it as the head of the field drove on. In the end, it was all just a bit too much for me to be able to close all the gaps that had formed in front of me. I fought all the way to the end hoping that I can make up time in the time trial and summit finish to come, but I am disappointed in the poor luck I had today. That's how the racing goes sometimes though.

Tomorrow is another tough stage of 171km with some solid climbs, including the Col Petit Galibier cresting only 30km from the finish. There could be a little action tomorrow if someone decides to be a little crazy, but I suspect that people are waiting for the coming stages. I suppose that could be a good opportunity to take a risk then?! I also suspect that there will be a few tired guys after today's stage. I guess we'll see tomorrow. Thanks for checking in!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck tmrw! A nice description of the race. I have not seen any US coverage.