Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sunshine!

In a nice change of pace today, I got to put on sunscreen instead of my rain jacket! That didn't mean the stage was easy, but it definitely helped make the suffering more "enjoyable". It was a hard start on small roads winding through many towns and the fight for the breakaway was full gas. Jens, Gregory, Markel, and I did what we could to cover the moves. We hoped to get one into a breakaway of decent size because we believed that it could make it to the finish today. I was pretty convinced Cannondale and GreenEdge would have other plans (which was true) for Sagan and Gerrans, but I still gave it my best. It's always hard in the start to go all out knowing that you're going to have to suffer again later and pay for the efforts you're making now. That's all part of the job though. We had an interesting moment before the break had gone that we came to a railroad crossing as a train was passing. We came to a brief "rolling" standstill before the throttle was wide open again. Once the break of 3 finally went, there was a decently long lull before the chase began. Then it was quite fast all day actually. The three out front were moving quite well, I must say.

All was going pretty ok for us in the stage until the run into the first of the climbs. I dropped back to get bottles a good 10km before the climb was going to start and normally that would have been plenty of time to take the bottles and deliver them. Bad luck for me at that moment though was Garmin beginning to pull all out, followed by Jens getting a flat, and then Markel getting a flat. I spent a long time swinging on the back of the field waiting for Kim to come with the bottles. We were only a kilometer or so from the base of the climb when I decided that I couldn't wait any longer. I knew that if I didn't move up I was not going to pass the climb in the front group and then would be of no use to Frank and Haimar either way (bottles or on/after the climb). I scratched the bottles and began my efforts to move up. We hit the climb and immediately guys started calling grupetto. I ducked and weaved my way around guys trying not to crash or swallow my tongue. I made it onto the tail end of the group and hung on for dear life as Garmin burned through their team to set up the attack of Slagter. I made it over the climb and over the next one and then finally was able to drop back to the car and get bottles. I delivered them to Frank and Haimar, gave Frank a couple gels, and then tried to do anything else I could. I wanted to try and attack, but at that moment in the race it is so difficult to move up if you're not in the front already that it was nearly impossible. Plus I was already near my limit staying in the group. I found myself too far back as we descended into the final KOM of the day and fought for a little while to try and hang on, but eventually my legs said enough.

I was happy I could help the team today. I felt much more like "Matthew" today and it always feels good to race, even if it is painful! After the finish I was greeted by some friends from Luther for a brief moment. It's always nice to see some familiar faces. My chat was short, but hopefully I'll get to see them a little more at another stage or two. The Norse family is strong! And as an aside to that, in case I haven't said it, the support from everyone near and far has been amazing. Whether I know you or not, I appreciate all the words of encouragement and support. It means a lot! Thanks for reading. Good night.

10 comments:

Scott K said...

Good to hear you are feeling yourself. Keep those legs a-pumping.

Anonymous said...

It sounds rough out there but you had a good day!

Anonymous said...

Flip, everyone at Team Rehab and in Decorah are cheering you on! I hope and pray for energy, peace and safety for you!
Next stage.. Picture yourself riding through the hills of northeast iowa tight on Nov's wheel.
Good luck brother!
Greg

Kent D. Lee said...

Matt,

Greetings from Luther through the web! So glad to hear some of the Norse are there in person to root for you. Good luck with the rest of the race! It was great to read your post. We're all rooting for you back in the states as well.

Brandon said...

Awesome post. Can't wait to watch more!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Matt. I am reading from Decorah Ia. Waiting to see a photo from the finish line when you get there.

L Jensen said...

Matt,

Best of luck from Colorado! We're watching and cheering every move!

Rebecca Bader said...

Flip, you are incredibly inspiring. I was racing a very half ass half ironman on Sunday in the pouring rain and 30mph winds and for some reason, while I was out there thinking that I wish they would just call the race, I thought of you riding in the tour and suffering and I managed to put my head back on enough to pull myself into 7th place overall. Not my best day, but thanks to you it was also certainly not my worst. :) You are incredible!!

David Dineen said...

Know that the entire city of Tosa is cheering you on. I've ridden with your Pops a few times during the Tour and he doesn't even have to pedal, his beaming pride just pushes him along with the group. Awesome to see.

Keep working and know you have an Army behind you......

Eric said...

I'm so glad you guys finally got a break from the weather. The rain made the race hard to watch. It looked so miserable and so dangerous! I love hearing your perspective on the Tour. It is a side I don't often hear much about. We are looking forward to seeing you in another break!