Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Days 1 and 2 in Colorado

It's been a good first couple stages here in Colorado. Stage 1 started with a bang in the high altitudes of Aspen. It was a challenging circuit for sure. The team rode very well to make sure no dangerous breaks were gone and then to have us in a good position going into the final climbs. I had a mechanical in the corner at the bottom of the first of the two final climbs. It wasn't a major mechanical and I was able to keep going, but I lost some valuable position. I didn't panic and just set about to tag onto the back of the group as it splintered. I was on as we crested and sped down to the last KOM of the day. I watched as Jens launched one of his signature late race attacks, which brought out a flurry of attacks from some of the gc favorites. I was still fighting to come back toward the front, but managed to catch onto the back of the drastically reduced peloton as we crossed the KOM and headed toward the finish. Jens was eventually caught and a few other attacks began to happen. Around 4km from the finish one guy attacked and there was a short chase before a brief lull. I had a little momentum and should have attacked right there, but hesitation got the better of me and I stayed where I was. I made sure I didn't make the same mistake though as we came to 2km to go. The last short and steep climb was there and I followed as a couple guys made moves. I found myself off the front and chasing. I felt as though I was going to throw up, but I did my best to fight through it. When the finish line came, I had failed to make contact with the two who attacked in front of me and then was out-sprinted by two others who came with me, but I landed fifth on the day and gained a valuable 9 seconds on those in the peloton behind. I was happy and felt positive looking at the week ahead. I hoped it was a good sign that I was hopefully reaping the benefits of a difficult Tour and a good week's recovery after Utah.

Today's second stage was something pretty spectacular. It finished in Crested Butte, the same finish that we did in 2012, but the approach was different this year. We came over the Kebler Pass, which is not only long and at high altitude, but it is also mostly dirt road, up AND DOWN. And for extra spice today, we had rain (with thunder and lightning which is very scary), which made the road (or dirt) sloppy, dirty, slick, and a bit dangerous. Unbeknownst to I believe all the riders, at least those in our first group, the race was evidently neutralized at the top of the pass in order to allow us to safely descend the dirt section. Well that message was never relayed to us until we had raced down the dirt, come back onto the pavement, and saw (barely through mud pasted glasses) the road blockaded. The race came to a complete stop, everyone was confused, yelling, shivering, getting rain jackets, trying to figure out what was going on. After about 5 minutes the race was on again with the one lone leader allowed to go before the peloton started. I honestly had no clue what was happening. Riders protested a little and said let's neutralize the race, but it was never clear. BMC began chasing immediately and I simply followed. Once we hit the final climb I was still uncertain what was happening, but when Tejay attacked I figured I better try and follow. Again I pulled a couple guys with me who out-sprinted me, but I still finished up 6th and moved up to 4th on GC. Tomorrow is going to be another test of the legs with the race ascending both sides of Monarch mountain, finishing on top the second time. I'm feeling strong and hoping I can stick my nose in it again.


Anonymous said...

Looking good! Your year is really coming together. Thanks for the post!

Scott K said...

Looking and riding great! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Stick your nose in it, indeed! Have a great stage, and make it happen!