Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dreary Switzerland

It was a difficult day for the team in Switzerland today. First we had Stijn pull out with illness, then we had Frank and Gregory crash on a foggy descent where you couldn't see more than 10 meters in front of you. And on top of that we had on/off rain/cold throughout the day as we were in the high mountains above 2000 meters. And let's not forget what the profile looked like from yesterday's post. Suffice it to say that it wasn't an easy day at work. Regarding the crashes, Gregory was fine, but Frank seems to have faired a little worse. He went down quite hard and seems to have avoided any broken bones or anything, but he'll definitely be feeling the effects of it for a few days. He was our GC guy, so that makes a big difference for the team tactics too. It doesn't seem that this group of guys can really catch a break this season!

As for me today, I had my share of "fun" as well. It started with a rear puncture in the beginning of the stage. The race for the break was in full force, so it was not the most ideal timing. I came back to the group without a great deal of stress thankfully. From there it was into the mountains. First was the Gotthardpass, which I have to be honest and say was pretty neat. I drove it in the opposite direction last autumn on a trip with Lisa, my brother, and his wife, but we drove on a completely different road. Today we actually climbed the last 5km on cobbles. As miserable as it was to suffer over the cobbles, it was also pretty awesome to have the experience like that. I do wish it had been nicer weather so I could have taken in the views a little, but I guess I'll have to come back again for that! After a very quick descent we were onto the Furkapass, which was not cobbled, but it was no easy task either. Both Gotthardpass and Furkapass were rated hors category, so they are in company with some of the hardest climbs in the business. From the top of Furka it was another rapid descent and immediately into the next category 2 climb. On the descent my luck was again blown. Just before a switchback I hit a large stone and it sliced my front tire causing an immediate flat. Luckily I kept it upright, but it would be a LONG time before the car could catch up to me because the field was quite split up at that point and the cars were behind everyone. I went from front group to probably last man on the road: not good.

Upon changing the front wheel I got a shove from the mechanic to begin my chase and realized I could still feel the road underneath me. Turns out I also had a rear flat! It was a slow leak and I was so focused on not crashing with the front flat that I hadn't noticed. I rode about 50 meters and got off to watch as the mechanic ran back to the car, grabbed another wheel, and ran back to me. I had taken my wheel out for him to try and speed the process. New wheel in and another big shove and I was actually on my way to chase. I had lost a lot of ground by that point and saw the gloom and doom in front of me as I came to the bottom of the descent. I watched as my downhill switchbacks were swapped for steep, uphill switchbacks on the direct other side of the ravine/valley. Not only did it look intimidating, but the worst part was seeing the front of the peloton already making their way up the first part of the climb while I had 2 or 3 switchbacks to get to the bottom. I was quite certain that my day was over and my legs felt horrible as I started up the climb, but I tried anyway. I was encouraged by my director and somehow managed to nearly regain contact with the back of the group as we reached the top of the climb. I hoped that I could close the remainder on the descent. On top is where it got a little crazier though. That is where the fog started and it was extremely scary having to descend in those conditions. I remember one other time I did a descent like that following Chechu Rubiera, and it so happens that it was also here in Switzerland at Tour of Romandie. Long story short, I was able to avoid any more chaos and did make it back to the group. We descended for a good bit longer and then had one more short but challenging climb to get over before the final descent to the finish. The group took it relatively calm at the beginning of the climb, but eventually some of the big guns started firing. I was just off the back at the top, but there was a big group of us and we chased back on. It was fast to the finish from there and we never did catch three from the breakaway, so our group was sprinting for fourth. I was just happy to finish in the front and move onto tomorrow. Weather forecast is much better for tomorrow, but the stage will again be very tough. Hoping I can find my good legs again and see if I can't make something happen. We'll have to see. Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there, especially Dad Busche and Dad Savre!


Cindy said...

Another excellent post that puts us right in the action. Thanks and I hope better days to come.

Anonymous said...

Way to stay in it!!