Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Still in the Middle East

Hello from Oman! Qatar finished up without incident and we have since moved onto Oman. Final stage of Qatar was set up for fireworks with tension at a race high as the winds were whipping before the start, but things were kept quite civil by some grace of chance. The uniqueness of Qatar was exemplified no better than on the final day where nearly the entire peloton was lined up to start around 20 minutes prior to the flag drop. At almost no other race throughout the year would nearly anyone be making it to the start line more than 10 minutes prior to start. It is just special! So despite the pre-race nerves, the final stage was a group sprint and status quo. So onto Oman!

We arrived on Saturday evening and had two days to settle in here. The hotel is definitely above average, but it is unfortunately a step down from the situation in Qatar. I mustn't complain though, we're still living pretty well here! Biggest struggle we've collectively had thus far is the food. Again it is well above average, but it has been oddly weird to find that satisfying meal. The options are good, but sometimes it is difficult to calm the beast! Outside of that, the weather is nice; less windy and a little warmer. We enjoyed two easy days of riding with nice coffee stops prior to getting things rolling in today's first stage.

About that stage. A break went pretty quickly and the field came under control pretty fast from BMC, QuickStep, and Astana. They rode quite fast all day and brought the break back somewhere close to the first KOM with about 30km to go. From that KOM to the finish it was full gas. The road after was much smaller and twistier than the highways we had been riding most of the day. I tried to keep my nerve and position without taking too many risks or overly stressing. Unfortunately that was a bit of a mistake because as we ran into the final KOM of the day I found myself too far back as the peloton stretched through some curves and the final roundabout. I wasn't able to correct the mistake and ended up losing around 40 seconds on the day. Come tomorrow's stage and especially stage 4, those 40 seconds won't really matter, but it is most frustrating for me because I was ready for it and know that if I had the position, I would have been in the first group. I'm disappointed in the result, but I'm happy that I felt the power in my legs. Now I just have to refocus and get ready for tomorrow's new opportunity.

The stage tomorrow should be pretty straight forward, but there is potential for some shake up. The finish is on a 3km climb that looks to be pretty irregular. It starts with about 1.5km at 7%, followed by ~.8km at 13%, then maybe a little flat and down, until the kick to the finish, again at 10% plus. That obviously will be a special finish, but there is another moment earlier in the race, about 30km in where we do a pretty difficult 3.5km climb, that we'll actually see in stage 5 again. Tricky part about that is if the breakaway has not gone yet. If the fight is still on, the field will likely explode on that climb. More than likely it would regroup after, but crazier things have happened! So basically, I plan to be in the front if that explosion happens. Done and done. Wish us luck!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. How did it go?