Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shortest stage! Expect the unexpected

Today was considered a straight forward sprinters stage and basically a day off for most when the course was released. The script was torn up and thrown in the rubbish bin today as the giro continues to through up a bucket load of unexpected surprises. I said to my team mates this morning that we need to be alert tomorrow as there is rain expected, we have a tired peleton, and everyone is expecting an easy day. I was certain that somthing would transpire be it from some opportunists or the misfortune of others but I had a feeling today would be anything but easy.

Our plan was simple, set up a bunch sprint for elia. As forecast the rain arrived in droves overnight so the peleton was rugged up like michelin men! The funniest part was that today the organisers had some technical issues before the start leaving us all sitting the startline an extra 10minutes in the pouring rain! Great day to decide to have some organisation troubles! Once underway 5 opportunists shot out of the field straight away so that immediately brought an element of control to the race. Being a short stage I knew we could not give them more than a few minutes so despite the abuse I copped from others in the bunch about keeping the pace going and keeping the break on a tight leash I planted myself on the front until quickstep arrived and chimed into the pace setting. Interestingly they were of the same opinion and kept the pace high all day to ensure a bunch gallop. As it turned out if we had of been any more lenient we would never of seen the breakaway before the finish as they were only caught inside the final couple of km's.

So from here the day went as planned. As I am on light duties it was my job to do the grunt work through the middle of the race and keep the other guys as fresh as possible for the finished. This plan suited my just fine as its a bucket load easier for me to be up front when its raining than back in the bunch battling for position. After the final climb and inside the final 30km the pace ramped up considerably as the break could sniff a victory and turned on the power as expected. Luckily we had them on a tight leash as while they had a gap to keep that gap they hard to ride hard all day as we were pushing hard all day. If we went easy and they held a 2min lead with 20km after also going easy to hold there advantage then we would not have caught them on such a short stage so that plan worked out quite well. Into the final 10km and elia had his green locomotive train with so I collected there rain coats and stuffed them in my jacket, gaining an extra 10km in the process, and listened to the radio and what had been planned as a great sprint by elia. Unfortunately he ended up a little out of position and did not get a chance to stretch his legs but in any case we tried and executed our plan so we can't do much more than that. But it was certainly a bucket load harder day than anyone expected and is sure to now add a little bit more nervousness to an already edgy peleton as everyone is realising that in this years giro anything and everything can happen in the blink of an eye.

For me, believe it or not I don't mind riding in the rain. I use positive reverse psychology on rainy days to find a way to enjoy it as much as possible. Firstly I like to get wet as quickly as possible. Once your wet you can get any wetter so the quicker that happens in my opinion the better. Secondly I prefer the road to be absolutely soaked, I feel much safer on a wet wet rd than one that's only half wet or just wet as under these circumstances it was be extremely slippery. Once the road is soaked I assume it may aswell be dry as atleast you know what to expect around every corner. And third and finally I fight like bellyo to be up the front for 2 reasons. Firstly to stay safe but also to stay warm. For me its not a day to be rolling along in the bunch as not only do you get wet you also get very cold! On a day like today I love the chance to work on the front as achieving being safe and staying warm is much much easier. Another thing I love about rainy days is eating a massive breakfast! I assume that I won't be taking my hands of the handlebars very often, let alone fosicing through my pockets for food and as a result figure its best to build up a nice big reserve of calories before the race begins. I love my food and I love burning it off so rainy days give me a great opportunity to put both of these enjoyable activities to the ultimate test!

So I am hanging in here, still feeling extremely average and am a shadow of the condition I felt in the days before the race began. However I can only draw positives from this very humbling experience these past 11 days. Its taught me to realize anything and everything can happen in the giro, both good and bad. Also I could not forsee the allergy problem I seem to be suffering from this week but better to find out now than in a situation where the stakes were higher. Sure for the moment I have not been able to perform at the level I has planned to but atleast I can change roles and assist the team in other ways and in the process give my body a chance to recover and adapt a little to this complaint. Also we are only half way through this race so there is always the chance the problems will leave me as quickly as it arrived so its important to keep looking forward and look for any opportunity I am capable of taking advantage off. Keep on keeping on.

Just when everyone was on there knees following todays "easy day" which turned into an absolute suffer fest! We now have a 200km transfer in the bus. That means arriving in the hotel around 8:30-9, massage, dinner, maby in bed by Midnight and to cap it all off tomorrow is the longest stage of the race which means the earliest start of the race aswell! Talk about the organisers tossing a spanners into the works! Infact I think they just decided this year to through the whole jolly tool box at us!!

Just chalk it all up too experience!

Race data
134km 3hrs
Average heart rate 140
Average power 280

CJW        
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