Todays stage of tour of beijing gave the field a bit of a shake up. After 2 relatively flat stages for the sprinter it was the turn of mountain men to stretch there legs. The 175km was littered around 6 climbs and while none were excessively difficult on paper there was certainly the potential for some fireworks. The race got of to its usual fast start and a breakaway formed pretty early on. Our very own Damiano Caruso was inside it and by days end had used his natural quick turn of speed and climbing skills to pull on the king of the mountains jersey. So with a rider up the road we settled into a day in the bunch and waited for the fireworks to begin.
The course was again spectacular. We did another fly by of the great wall, no matter how many times you see it your always in awe. The pace was very consistent from the get go which always adds a little tension to the peleton. Fortunately we again enjoyed excellent roads with limited obstacles which has made the race feel much safer despite the stressful moments. The organisers really have done an excellent job putting this race together. The roads are also very fast which makes holding position a little easier as its a little more difficult for people to move forward. All this makes life in the bunch much more relaxing.
So back in the bunch I took on my usual role of looking after Ivan. Blocking him from the wind and keeping him as well positioned as possible to ensure he was ready to rock and role for the finale. The only little annoyance I had today was a bit of the chinese belly! My room mate mattias has felt a bit of the past couple of days so inevitable I have picked up a bit of whatever he has been putting down so to speak! Luckily the race was a solid enough pace that pain in the legs outweighed pain in the tummy, just had a bit of a struggle chomping down my tucker. Hopefully it will pass as quick as it came. Fortunately it did not stop me from being able to do my tasks today.
So with ivan all safe and sound we hit the 2nd last climb around 50km from the finish. Sure enough AG2R decided to turn the screw and intantly riders were going everywhere! I made sure Ivan was in front of me and then just sat safely behind him. Around 1km from the top of the climb the call came over the radio that elia was just off the back and we were to wait for him.
Ratto was perfectly positioned in the front so could baby sit Ivan and I just drifted down the decent waiting for Elia. He soon arrived with micheal koch and we set about chasing the down the front group. Elia need not have worried about returning to the front of the race as koch was like a motorbike. We were never more than 10-15sec off the back so had nothing to fear but I was certainly very relieved koch was there as it made chasing back on much easier in 2 as oppose to alone. Also dalla chimed in and with his team time trial prowess we soon had elia back at the head of the race. From there we just stayed behind elia to ensure he remained in the front on the final short climb which he had no drama doing and then buckled the seat belt for the plunge down to the finish. The decent was a little twisty and turny as sure enough so gaps opened and a few of us ended up on the wrong side of it. Fortunately Elia and Ivan were both safely in the front so we had done our jobs for the day.
Elia had a good sprint today and finished 4th so will be optimistic to finish of with a bang on the final stage on tuesday. Along with Caruso taking the king of the mountains jersey it was a good day for the cannondale team. Tomorrow the race will finish atop a 12km 5% climb so is certain to shake things up even more. Ivan is growing in confidence each day so he will be our focus tomorrow. I am enjoying spending time apart of the action again. Its nice to have my confidence back on the bike after my crash in the vuelta. My body was not prepared to take risks while my broken bone healed so its nice to know that that's all behind me now and I the brakes are off so to speak. You get to know your body pretty well and the feeling of not holding back particularly in the nervous moments is the best indication that everything is back to normal which inturn has given me much more confidence to push again in the race.
To make a difference tomorrow its going to need to be a very hard stage. The climbs are not steep and should wind be blowing it will make it more difficult for the climbers to drop the sprinters. All in all that shapes up for a very exciting stage as teams will be throwing the kitchen sink at the race in a bid to split it up. Looking forward to getting a bit better night sleep tonight! Last night my tummy was singing to me!! And getting up in the morning and hearing the battle plan our team manager mario screa has install for us.
Time: 4hrs 9min
Speed Ave: 42kmph
Elevation gain: 2200m
Ave Power: 262watts
Max Power: 1050watts
Kcal Burnt: 4000
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