Monday, March 21, 2011

Stage 1 catalunya

Today was the 1st stage of the volta catalunya. I was pretty excited about this race as It was my first stage race in europe for the season and also will give me the opportunity to do some climbing. It is also my first stage race with basso and I am pretty eager to learn as much about how he approaches the stage race format. I have done some good training in the past few weeks so feel good and hope to be appart of the race.

So for one's analysis. My role in the team meeting was to stay quiet in the start and just ensure ivan is always toward the front and real real close to the front for the start of the final climb. Unfortunately this plan got had to be altered as a very sleepy peleton allowed 4 breakaway riders a gap of 16min with 130km to race before any teams decided to chase. My team mate timmy duggen dug deep to bring down the advantage on the first climb but With the gap still at 14min with 110km to go it was panic stations and basso sent me to the front to ride with the 2 saxo bank boys whom the other race favorite alberto contador had sent up to ride. With our two team represented on the front the other teams figured it was best not to help so the 3 off us plowed into a block headwind for 80km to the base of the final climb by which time we we had pretty much destroyed ourselves to get the gap down to 4min with 30km to go. I have spent a lot of time riding the front but today was by far the hardest ever as I can't ever remember having to chase such a big gap and ride full gas into a block head breeze, it is quite demoralising when your heartrate is above 180bpm and you are only doing 35kmph going down a slight decline!!!! Thankfully the work of noval and stensen of saxobank and myself was rewarded by the fact we got the break back under control but was certainly a good reminder of how difficult some days in the protour can be. I led the bunch onto the final climb for one last pull and with my job done started to drift back through the bunch. This was when I realised I was not going out the back very quickly so was nice to know that the bunch must have atleast had a tiny bit of a hard day aswell, when you work on the front this is always satisfying to know. With 3km of the 7km climb to go and I was still hanging in the front group by the skin of my teeth I realised I was burning precious energy on day one of the tour and needed to save as much as possible for no doubt the time later in the race I am called upon to ride the front again. With this in mind I sat up and rode out the remaining 30km at a nice gentle pace to recover a bit and make sure I am ready to work again no doubt tomorrow. So litterly back to work for me today but like everytime I get to ride the front, it is always enjoyable when firstly the gap comes down and does not go up and also the guys behind have had to atleast work a little hard to soften them up a bit. It is a bit like mowing the lawn or chopping wood, a very satisfying job.

Most important basso finished safe and sound in the front group with his rivals and I am now looking forward to seeing what happens between all the superstars here on the andora stage on wednesday.

Facts and figures for the stage, no srm so no power

Time 4hrs 14min
Distance 160km
Speed 37.7kmph
Av heart rate 142
Heart rate av for 2hrs on the front 160

Tomorrow fingers crossed will be a sprint so should get an easier day in the bunch, be nice to recharge a bit the wednesdays queen stage and I hope some more time on the front of the bunch.

Cjw

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