Ok so I owe you the last two stages of Paris Nice. I got a little swamped after the race with driving home and then preparing for my parents arrival, so I haven't really had a moment to write! The second last stage has escaped my memory a little bit to be honest. Basically I remember that it could've been an incredibly tough start, but thanks to some narrow roads a group got away relatively quickly and things settled. Then it was up to the incredibly tough finishing circuit to decide what would happen for the day. I tried to play my cards right and watch for moves as we entered the circuit and were catching the break, but I was too busy trying to buffer the lactic in my legs that attacking seemed impossible. I lost some ground as we crossed the finish line for the second time and was unable to close the final gap to the field. From there it felt like a long ~15km to the finish. I was happy to get back to the hotel that day!
The last stage greeted us with another sunny day and much anticipation of a leg and lung busting finish. Everything was still close on the gc and time bonuses were incredibly important. The stage started a little differently though. After the 10km of neutral Giant Shimano put their entire team on the front to ride for the first sprint bonus of the day because their man John Degenkolb was trying to seal the green jersey up. Their strategy effectively neutralized the race until that first sprint, which I actually have no idea who won. From that sprint though it went bonkers. Knowing the inevitable, I had moved myself into a good position as we approached the sprint because I wanted to try for the breakaway. I followed some moves, processed more than a little bit of lactic acid and eventually was part of the 18 rider (I think) break.
Behind in the peloton I was hoping they would stop, but Saxobank had missed the move so they were pulling to try and get us back. We continued to ride hard and eventually broke Saxobank after the first two climbs. Our gap ballooned from 1 minute out to almost 2:30, but then Movistar went to the front and put the hammer down. By the top of the third climb and into the base of the fourth climb our lead was back to 60 seconds. I knew that it was basically a "now or never" situation as our gap was coming down, so I attacked. I was alone for a bit, but eventually 4 other guys came across to me. I never asked them to pull but just rode a hard tempo to not make it easy on anyone, including the peloton behind. As we neared the top, a few guys attacked from the peloton came across to us. We latched on to them and rode over the top together where there was a large regrouping from behind. We had Frank in the group with Bob and Fabio coming back after a few kilometers. I was told by Kim to watch after Bob, so I went to help him. After finding him at the back, he didn't seem interested in my help, but I insisted. It was futile and after we did the fast descent to the final climb we were the last two in the group. I didn't have the legs to make up the ground anymore. I rode my own solid tempo to the finish, cleaned up, grabbed some pizza and drinks, hopped in the car, and booked it home to Girona!
My parents arrived on Tuesday and we've been having fun ever since. We're up in the Pyrenees currently. The weather took a turn for nasty this afternoon, but hopefully it will clear up by the morning and we can ride out of here and back to Girona. I'll try to update with more later! Thanks for checking back in.