After a rather restful night's sleep, I was disappointed to open the shades this morning and see the trees blowing violently. It was 8am and the wind was already whipping. That meant it was going to be a hard and "fun" day of racing! The tension was high on the start line. Considering the conditions, it took a relatively long time for the action to happen. Finally after about 35km we took a left hand turn into a cross-tailwind section and the gas went on. The field blew up immediately. I'm not sure how many groups there were, but I do know that I was in the last one! It wasn't my finest moment, but I had done my job for the day, which was get our guys safely to the turn and then just finish. It sounds kind of funny, but I'm not here for gc and we have guys who can do a good sprint, so it is important to get them in a position to be able to do that. That means they have to be in the front when the action happens.
Today's stage was the test event for this year's World Championships. We rode the circuit and its many turns 4 times. Despite the crosswinds and big splits, things actually all came back together by the time we finished the circuits. It was kind of crazy. I never thought we'd see the front group again, but we caught on just as we started the last lap... and Katusha was starting to line things out for the sprint. It was a little demoralizing to see them lining it up, but I dug deep to get back into the group. I wanted to try and help our guys a little bit before the sprint; at least try and contribute a little for the day. I fought to try and get to the front, but it was completely blocked up and basically impossible to move up. I had all but given up and was just following the group to the finish when I suddenly realized I was basically at the front! I was just about to jump to try and help Marco and Carlos when I heard Chris Jones yell to me, "Dude, stay out of there and be safe!" I obliged as I didn't want to get into trouble and likely wasn't going to be any assistance in the last few kilometers of the stage. So instead I relaxed a bit and rolled into the finish having a look at the crash victims about 500 meters from the line. Thankfully no one from us was in there and I don't think anyone was seriously injured.
Tomorrow is the Merckx style TT, meaning no aero equipment. Basically a TT on road bikes. It is only 11.4km, but it will certainly be plenty painful and windy! Should be fun and at least it shouldn't be stressful. :)