The post rest day stage always throughs up a few surprises, specially when its the first forray in the higher mountains. A couple of things are certain however, everyone "THINKS" there legs feel awesome and fresh again and it certainly is the case for a majority of the peleton! As a result the breakaway is destined to require an hour of power of effort to enter if you fancy starting the second phase of the race up the road. And thirdly nobody really knows how's there body will react when the smack goes down and the script for the day will be rewritten a number of times throughout the stage!
So I was part of the clan that thought I was finally at 100% health and fresh as a daisy. As a result my goal was to begin the 2nd week the same way I started the first and head up the road in the breakaway. I picked some strong riders to follow who obviously had the same plan and off we went. I would fail in my attempt but not until I had completely burried myself in a number of moves that "ALMOST WENT" the ones the group seems content with and you grab 10-15seconds and all looks good when all of a sudden someone decides they want in on your party and a flurry of new attacks begins! So this is what happened to me today and sure enough after being brought back for the last time the next move slipped of the front.
Unfortunately the group was large and we were not inside it as the boys were I little far back to counter my previous attack. Immediately our ever reliable green train locomatives of paolo longo borgini and alan maranga marangoni rushed to the front and started to close the gap down. This is not as easy as it sounds as there were already 12 riders going full blast to get away v's our 2 men. Immediately Elia Viviani and I drew from the strength our seeing our men sacrifice themselves for one of us to enter and we clawed our way to the front in anticipation of a counter attack. As the our boys closed Elia launched out of the field with the fearsome kick that has seen on him being capable of going toe to toe with cavendish and in no time he had bridged across and the break was free sailing into the dolomites. At this point we were 40km into the stage and I was already ready to see the finish line so knew it would be a long day. One thing was for sure however longo and maranga had put in best on ground performances and Elia repaid them by finishing of this selfless work that is never witnessed outside of the peleton on one of the hardest days we will race in this years giro.
So for me and the boys remaining in the bunch it was onto looking after damiano caruso to ensure he is in a good position for the start of the climbs at around the 110km mark. We assembled on the front and all seemed perfect as we sat comfortably between the astana and sky trains until 10km from the climb a hiccup occurred, damiano had a puncha. I stayed in the group while a couple of others dropped back to help. Once he was back to the group it was then my job to escort him back to the front. Easier said than done on a typical dolomites rd that twists winds and roles and would be flat out fitting 2 scooters travelling in opposite directions let alone 2 cars! So back in the group and the calmness of pole position was replaced with stress on behalf of us workers charged with job of getting our GC man up front. Damiano as usual was cool as cucumber and guided me forward telling me when to move and relax. When we moved however it was an all out sprint to duck into a small hole that was probably not there but it succeeded and by the base of the climb Damiano was back in a prefect posi! I meanwhile had left my lungs and legs partly 60km back down the rd and the remainder a few km before the climb began. I retreated to the bunch for some recovery but it is was all in vein. Once we hit the climb where the road incredibly somehow got even smaller!! Was now being lit up by the black sky train and riders where being dropped left right and centre. I was trying to ride around riders but as usual wasting way to much energy and before I knew it the bronchitis was back and I could not breath! Last years winner ryder hesjedal was also having some difficulties of his own so I humped onto his wheel in the hope of recovering a bit and riding back to front. How wrong I could be as once the breathing issues started they only got worse and in no time the only focus I had was getting oxygen in let alone getting over the climb!
So from very early on in the first mountain test I have no idea what so ever happened up the road, all I can do is read the report but I do know Elia won an intermediate sprint and so preserved my sprint classifcation lead and also lifting him to 2nd in the red jersey competition so that's nice. Its always nice to be leading somthing than be behind! Damiano did an awesome job continuing to mix it with the best in the race and jumped to 21st on GC after finishing a very very impressive 16th on the stage. Me meanwhile finally recovered on the decent enough to make it up the final climb but with some serious concerns regarding my breathing issues. Its not the first time its happened in italy in april/may but I have never been able to put a finger on it.
It must be bad as now I have many other riders offering me assistance as they see me suffering on the climb so it was definitely time to relay these concerns to our team doc Roberto Corsetti who is veteren of 20 giro d'italias. As only a few weeks ago my condition was building up perfectly and I was certainly in the best condition of my life the doctor has suggested that I am suffering from a bad allergy which is very common in italy for this time of year and basically riders whom he says there are many that suffer from it simply don't race in italy during this period! So if he is right I am probably in for some more difficult days over the next 2 weeks but fingers crossed I will find a way to manage it and also find a way to utalise the work I have done for this race over the past month. Just another harsh reality of bike racing and unfortunately until you give it a go you never never know but one thing is certain! The amount of suffering and desperation I have been through this past week is going to make me enjoy beyond comprehension how good it feels when I am back to 100% health like I was only a short time ago! Will keep on keeping on!
Average power 255
Average heartrate 140
Max power 1100 watts (trying to unsuccessfully get in the break)
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