Friday, April 4, 2014

Criterium International Review, Basque Country Preview

It's been a few days since Criterium International finished up, but the memories of solid teamwork on Sunday are still looming fresh in my mind. We really gave it a good effort in a bid to take the overall or at least a stage win, but unfortunately were not rewarded with either. We went into the stage with a plan: make the race hard. The first step in that was making the race for the breakaway last for a good bit. Laurent, Eugenio, and Fabio were in charge of covering and making some moves at the beginning. They did a good job of creating some chaos and covering moves. When everything was said and done there was a small break up the road and it was time to settle in for a bit.

The next part of the plan was to ride as a team and protect Frank and Bob until the feedzone. After catching our mussettes and refilling our pockets/cages with food/bottles, it was time for us to move to the front. The climb after the feedzone wasn't a critical point really, but the narrow, twisty, rough downhill that followed was, so we needed to be prepared for that. After cresting the climb we took the descent at a reasonable pace to stay comfortable and out of danger. We managed that step of the plan just fine. It was the next step where things fell apart a bit.

After the descent our plan was really supposed to heat up. It was the last efforts for Laurent, Eugenio, and Fabio and they were supposed to essentially launch Calvin and either Andy or me into a counter attack. The idea was that after the descent everything would be strung out, then before anyone could react or realize what was going on, we could have two guys a couple hundred meters up the road forcing the teams behind to react/chase, thereby making the race hard, which would be good for Frank. I decided that I would go with Calvin. For some reason I just really wanted to! It sounded kind of fun. Realistically we wanted to get two guys away and bridge up to the first break of the day, but the field reacted quickly and it really just started the racing. Calvin and I did get a gap for a little bit but were joined by a few others relatively soon. Eventually the field chased us back, but it couldn't have been without some effort. Knowing that our goal was to make the race hard, I decided to just keep pulling a good tempo once the field caught us. After a bit Frank called me off the front and some others did some work. The pace remained high, which was good for us. We crested the top and began the descent down to the next big climb.

A revamping of the plan on the road led us to tell Calvin to pull a good tempo from the bottom of the next climb. He certainly did that because I know I was feeling it! After a few km Andy took over and upped the pace a little more. I'm not sure how the others behind were feeling, but my legs were saying it was hard! After a couple km Andy swung off and I took over. I continued the pace to the summit and led into the downhill. I was really hoping that these pulls were making some guys behind suffer. A little ways into the downhill Bob had a mechanical and Frank called me off the front. At that same moment a couple guys attacked. They disappeared quickly on the descent and some other teams took up the chase. The gap grew to around a minute as we raced toward the final climb of the day. I ate a few bites of a bar and swallowed some gels knowing that I was going to need those last calories to help Frank and Bob as best I could on the final climb.

We hit the base of the final climb (14km @ 6.1%) and I tried to settle into a rhythm following the wheels in front of me. A few guys took some short pulls to up the tempo and shed some riders. After a couple km a guy from Bretagne Schuller took the front. He set a solid tempo and eventually swung off, at which point his teammate Brice Felliu attacked. That left me at the front behind his other teammate, so I decided it was my time to start working again. I pedaled into a rhythm and began chipping away at Felliu's lead. He came back a short while later and I continued to ride my pace, hoping that Frank and Bob were feeling "good" while others were hurting a bit and/or falling off. At one point there was a small flurry of attacks, so I thought my job was done, but I maintained contact with the group and was able to come back to the front. I pulled for awhile longer until the real attacks began again. As I fell off the pace I was happy to see that only 20 guys remained and the yellow jersey had lost contact. I hoped that my work had tired some guys legs out enough to allow Frank and Bob the opportunity for the win (stage and/or overall). When I arrived at the finish I was greeted by a disappointed Frank. He gave it a go, but it wasn't to be for us. Nonetheless it was a great team effort and it points in a good direction for our upcoming races.

So what's next? I will begin racing Basque Country on Monday. It is always super hard and it is one of my favorite races. The parcours is unique, the food/hotels are good, the fans are incredible, and the weather always unpredictable. I raced two years in unbelievably warm weather and two years in some very ugly, wet, cold weather. Who knows what this year has in store for us. Whatever it is, our team is strong and ready to fight. I pasted some links below to follow the race. Thanks!


Cindy said...

Great recap. Always a bonus when I can "feel" the race through your descriptions. Thanks and good luck to you and the team in Pais Vasco!

Anonymous said...

Yes, good luck in the Pais Vasco. Thanks for the recap.

Geton withSports said...

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