TOUR OF VIRGINIA
So that was a long one, and tough one.
The weekend started a bit rough for myself. How many of you out there have crashed during a time trial? As bad as that sounds, its not as bad as crashing the day before the time trial like I did. Now isn't that just ridiculous? I was pre riding the tt course, on the part of the course that was actually later taken out when I went to stand out of the saddle and my front wheel just turned into a rut on the side of the rode and bam I went down. Luckily just some scrapes and the biggest loss on the day were my shorts and humility.
I really wish we had Internet where we were staying, but we were basically staying in the middle of no where in a farm house that looked like it belonged in a horror film. So I dont really feel like giving stage by stage details, but I try to highlight a few things.
After a bit of work on my short efforts this off season I was able to improve on my prologue time trialing and was able to finish in 8th place only 8 seconds back. Hopefully this trend will continue. There still is room for improvement, but this is a step in the right direction. It sucks to be out contention in stage race after only a few miles of time trialling. Our "Golden Goose" or "Golden Ticket" as we like to refer to him finished in 17th only 16 seconds back on the lead and would later in the criterium that night move himself 10 seconds closer after winning and getting the time bonus.
The next day was very difficult not only because of the Cat 1 climb after 90 miles of racing, but because of the aggressive racing. Our boys Stephen, Norton, and Dewald did a great job cover the moves and Norton found himself in the break of the day that a few miles later would turn into the split of the day after only 50 miles of racing. Luckily our boy Alejandro made the split that was around 20 guys and was able to take the sprint for second place. I was a bit disappointed for not making that split, because that pretty much ended my chance at a high GC finish. I was still able to recover a bit on the climb and catch some of the guys who fell off the break and finish 1:45 down on the group after being 4 minutes down at the bottom of the climb.
The 4th stage or "queen stage" as it was referred to started of a bit easier and the race leaders team Caico took over after a break of three or so went up the road. The action really didnt start till we hit the first Cat 1 climb of the day after 60 miles of racing. We went up it pretty hard and by the top it was down to 3 Caico guys bowman and myself. There was a lot of regrouping after 13 mile decent and the field was basically back together with a group of 5 who had attacked up the rode. Caico started to chase and we even threw Stephen up there to help bring it back so then either Norton or Ian could set me up to attack up the climb as I was climbing quite well. But unfortunately that plan went by the way side as I stood on the side of the rode a few miles of the climb with a flat tire. Stephen pulled over gave me his wheel, but i have a drop out issue and it took some time to get in, but once we did Ian helped pace me back on for a while, then I was able to get in the caravan just at the base of the climb. I worked my way up before it got steep and just jumped for the front of the group. Being pretty tired at this time I didn't attack, as I was a bit worried about the effort I had just put in and being able to go over the top. But the whole time we were climbing I was thinking it would have to get harder and they would go faster, but it never happened and was again I found myself going over the leaders and right with me was the Golden Goose. 8 of us came off the climb together and started working towards the finish. Unfortunately another group caught us 10km out. There was an attack and I reeled it back in wanting to keep it together for Alejandro and as soon as I brought it back the field sat up and "sense the fear in the legs" as Alejandro said he attacked with 7km to go and never looked back. Caico was chasing with what they had, but were no match for Alejandro and his break away partner. Alejandro took the win and the time bonus and now was within 20 some seconds of the overall.
Now the game plan had switched a bit with all the big climbs of the tour done and we needed time bonuses to set up Alejandro for the overall victory. Well sure enough a break went on the third day and it was up to us to bring it back because we needed time bonus and Caico didnt want us to have the chance at them. Almost everyone else was basically going for stage wins at this time due to the fact of the big time gaps. 50 miles into this stage found Stephen, Norton, and myself on the front trying to bring the break back. It was just over 2 minutes and with 20 or so miles to go we had it right around 1 minute, right where we wanted. We didn't want to catch it and have to deal with counter, but with only 12 miles to go and the break within a minute the attacks went anyways. I covered the first few and that was about it. The field was staying together, but still moving at a high rate of speed. We repositioned ourselves at the front for the lead out and nail back the last few hundred meters of the gap. Norton got it real close, Stephen was there, and I took Alejandro around the last corner right up to the back of the break and he took off. He ended up second, but he was on a neutral support bike with Sram and was in to big of a gear for the uphill sprint. But still the gap now was only 12 seconds..
The crit the follow day had one time bonus sprint with 7 laps to go and of course one on the finish. Once again it was up to Stephen, Norton and myself to keep the race together so Alejandro could get the time bonuses. We did a god job keeping the race together and there were no break aways for either sprint. Caico boxed out Alejandro on the time bonus sprint with 4 of there guys and then he finished 3rd on the stage. Now only 8 seconds separated us from the overall, and the first place time bonus the next day would be 10 seconds.
This race did everything, but go to plan. A break went within 20 miles of the start that contained the race leader, Bowman (who was sitting 3rd) and the 4th place rider on GC. Radio communication between Com 1 and everyone else was down during this time and before we knew it they had 2 minutes and 20 seconds and 10 guys. We gave it all we had, even Alejandro was up there helping, and the Harley team to nail back the break, but we couldn't get it. We gave it everything and ended up short. It was kind of a disappointed after all that work and being so close. That is what makes stage racing so tough, everything has to go perfectly right to win. Im sure we will get a few in the next few months of racing. Are team is strong, and we will continue to turn some heads this year. I can't wait till the next time.
Thanks for reading