Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not Many Teeth Left

Weird title, right? It's actually quite applicable because it's beginning to feel like almost every stage is a kick in the teeth! I think that's why this is the hardest race in the World though. Today was the longest stage of the race at 237km and we had plenty of obstacles to conquer. First was the windiness of the area around Carcassonne. Somewhat luckily it was mostly a headwind instead of crosswind, and the chaos was slightly limited. That said, it still took over 70km for the breakaway to finally go. There was a small break gone at one point, but some teams decided they weren't satisfied and wanted someone in the break, so they pulled into the second KOM of the day in order to launch a guy into the break. I knew this was their ultimate goal and I was partly on duty to watch for the break, especially a big one, and I screwed this part up. Our number one goal was watching after Frank and Haimar, but I was given the opportunity to look for a big move to see if a stage win was possible. I knew I missed a big opportunity after it went, but I tried not to dwell on it and do what I could to help out the rest of the stage.

The gap to the breakaway grew steadily throughout the day, and it started to become clear that Astana had no interest in pulling it back and apparently no one else did either. We rode precariously easy over the Col de Portet-d'Aspet and Col des Ares, so there seemed to something brewing for the final climb of Port de Bales. Being an hors category climb of 12km at 7.7%, there was plenty that could happen if a team decided to push the tempo. We made sure to have Frank and Haimar in good position at the start. As predicted, Movistar went bananas at the bottom and immediately shredded the peloton. I tried to hang on to the vicious tempo being set, but I didn't have it. Looking at the results, it looks like several gc contenders had some issues today too. For us, Frank lost time but stayed in 14th on gc. Haimar had super bad luck and flatted on the descent and lost around a minute thirty. Evidently a motorbike was more or less in the middle of the group on the descent and kicked a rock into the road. Haimar couldn't avoid it and immediately flatted. It's super unfortunate because that's something he couldn't control at all. Otherwise he would've finished with the Nibali group and moved up to 8th or so on gc. It's a horrible shame, but hopefully we can make up a little time in the next two hard mountain stages. Okey dokey, tomorrow's a new day!

5 comments:

Tracey said...

Thanks for the posts Matthew. It's awesome to get a little glimmer of what "life" is like in the TdeF peloton. Hang in there . .. .you're doing great!

Elise Nelson said...

You said it Matthew. Tomorrow is another day, and it will be better.

Cheryl said...

Matthew - This has been such a brutal Tour, but you keep battling on. Just like you did in the Vuelta last year.
Cheering you on all the way to Paris!

Terry Schaul said...

Matthew - Great to follow your TDF Blog!. Thanks for sharing the excellent insight into the highs and lows of the tour.

I know your Aunt Carol is super proud of you, as are all of the greater Milwaukee TDF fans. Great to cheer on one of our own in the Grand Tour!

Best of luck in the Pyrenees, and safe travels to Paris!

Mary Boelk said...

Matthew,

Thanks for taking the time to blog about your TdeF experiences. It gives a "civilian" like me some insights into this great race.

Best wishes for the rest of the Tour - Tosa is cheering for you!