Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Beginnings In Argentina

Wow, I guess it's been a little while since I last wrote! Rather than do a giant recap and catch up though, I'd prefer to just start with the new stuff: 2016 and my first days with UHC. It's a new year and I'm onto new adventures. My move over to UHC will mean some big changes for Lisa and me, but we're welcoming them with open arms. The biggest immediate change is the likelihood that we will not be spending much time in Girona/Europe. Instead, we will primarily be in the USA, which will be nice for many reasons; however, we did not see this change coming so abruptly and we are definitely going to miss friends and life in Girona. That's the way of the cycling world though and we will make the most of and embrace what we're given! Regardless of the changes, I'm excited to be a part of this new team and looking forward to the opportunities I will have.

This season is starting a little differently and earlier than it has in the past for me. The team didn't have a training camp in December or early January, opting instead to send some of us directly to racing here in San Luis before a very short "sponsor" camp, and then immediately continue racing after. I believe this is the earliest I have started racing ever, but I'm happy to get things going and see how this season can progress. The travel to San Luis was quite a marathon from start to finish, but once we finally arrived the accommodations were nice and allowed some good recovery. Our hotel is at a horse racing track and we actually got to see some live racing before the bike racing started. It was pretty cool! We've been here almost a week now, so it's starting to feel like home. I'm rooming with fellow American, Chris Jones, and have been reunited with my old teammate Jani Brajkovic, so coming into this team was not completely uncomfortable. The fact that it is a primarily American and English speaking team makes getting to know everyone a slightly easier process.

So how about the racing? Stage 1 was the dreaded team time trial. It never gets easier and it doesn't matter what time of the season it is, it hurts! We put together a really good effort and surprised many, ourselves included, with the 5th fastest time, spending a good amount of time in the "hot seat" following our effort. As expected, several of the big teams coming after us knocked us off, but we were happy with our result. Going into stage 2 we didn't have huge expectations, mainly to try and stay out of trouble and try to have a good sprint from Marco or Carlos. It has been surprisingly windy here and that played a big factor into the stage. It was basically a giant out and back on a highway, so the wind was quite predictable, although it shifted around a bit throughout the day. At the turn around the pressure went on and chaos ensued. I got caught out and ended up crashing as someone took out my front wheel. I didn't have major damage, but the skin lost and impact on the ground definitely left their mark. Miraculously I made it back to the group and then didn't lose any time, so my hopes for doing ok in the overall were not completely lost.

Having dodged a bullet on stage 2, I went into stage 3 still in a reasonable place to try and maintain some GC position looking ahead to the big stages of 4 and 6. It wasn't possible to overlook the finish of stage 3 though with a short climb topping out just 12km from the finish. The run into the climb was crazy as usual but I managed to avoid mishap and started the climb in reasonable position unlike 4 of my teammates who all crashed. They all finished and will continue to race, but it was unfortunate and is never fun to crash. Once on the climb the field shrunk pretty quickly, but the front group was still large. The pressure on the climb came from different teams, but all control went out the window when some of the big guns decided to fire around 1.5km from the top. The most notable for me was seeing Nibali follow and immediately attack Quintana. I'm pretty sure he was going twice as fast as everyone else. Despite my state of oxygen debt and now completely demoralized mental state, I kept my rhythm and fought to the top. Jani and I were in a chase group not too far off the back. We chased down the descent and into the finish. The team's bad luck continued when Jani punctured 5km from the finish, losing tons of time and any overall hopes for himself. By the finish, my chase group finished somewhere around 30 seconds behind the leaders. I lost time on the stage, but I don't suspect that it will make a huge difference in the overall given the two mountain top finishes of stage 4 and 6 yet to come. Regardless I will fight to do my best!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please keep posting. You paint a great picture for us mortals! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're posting again. Thanks for the update and good luck!

Jhon Key said...
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