Close but no cigar is the best way to sum up stage 4 of the tour of taiwan. We had another similar stage to day 2 today except with the climb closer to the finish. Therefore we figured we would adopt the same strategy, try and bust it up on the climb and then attack as hard as possible on the 30km undulating run into the finish. Pretty simple plan really, only thing we didn't know was how hard the climb actually was, and what damage we could do to the bunch, as it turned out the climb was not so hard and we burnt a lot of energy trying to make everybody tired.
So off we went at a bullet a gate like every other day. Another 50km covered in the first hour and massive groups forming but going nowhere until finally 3 broke clear. This made the race pretty easy to control for 100km flat drag to the days and races major climb. We had a simple plan, Ted would do what ever work was required before the climb which would keep jean marc, formolo and myself fresh for the climb. Once on the climb first jean marc would raise the tempo before handing the baton to me to try and bust it up on the steep final 1km pitch. From there formolo would be free to fly and attack and hopfully stay away until the finish, seemed pretty simple really.
Ted as always did his job to perfection. Firstly keeping us perfectly positioned at the head of the bunch so we could be as relaxed as possible. Once the break started to get a little threatening Ted went to the front to get things under control so Jean Marc could then implement of plan on the climb. Onto the climb we went and ted had the break in sight. This sparked so action in the group and the ever diligent jean marc was very quick to get to front and start drumming out a ferocious tempo and keep things on our terms. Unfortunately the climb was almost non existent, perhaps 2-3% max so was hard to do anything except keep the peleton in a long line. Still we were committed and when he had spent his biscuits 2km from the top I had no choice but to take over. No I was towing the whole peleton so knew that I would have to burn some serious matches to try and force any sort of a selection in such a short space of time. The ever motivating figure of formolo was planted firmly on my wheel which of course lifted me and once the slope increased 1km from the top I turned the screw. It drew a group clear and seemed to succeed in putting some fatigue in peoples pins. Now it was onto formolo to try his hand at an attack and see if he could snare the stage victory. As expected the young charger was champing at the bit and at the first opportunity he launched of the front 25km from home in search of glory.
Davide has become a very respected rider in the bunch in his short time as a professional. As such the only man able to match his attack was none other than the yellow jersey wearer. When the yellow jersey follows your attack you know that you are a marked man so was great to see the respect he has earnt here in taiwan this week. Now we were in a perfect position it seemed. 2 of the strongest riders were up the road and a tired group of 15 or so had to try and chase them down. I was pretty fried by this time from the work on the climb so was very appreciative davide had skipped clear so I could re charge a little in the event he got hawled back in.
Unfortunately about 15km from the finish he did get caught so now we had to go to the next plan, my counter attack. So with around 10km off I went with 2 others and we quickly got a good gap. Unfortunately I knew straight away that I had pretty much cooked my goose earlier in the stage and the spark was gone from my pedal stroke but I was committed now and there was nothing else to do other than empty the tank. Also I noticed the adrenaline rush I get when trying to fend of the peleton wasn't there today, I don't know why but there was just something missing. Initially we worked very well together until one guy decided to be clever and not help. In that situation there's nothing more that you can say than oh well and get on with it. At 1km we still had a nice 10 second lead and I thought we were home and hosed, that was atleast until a 200m sharp rise appeared in front of us! Normally I would just jump out of the saddle and pop over it no dramas but today my tank ran out of fuel and I basically came to a standstill and the bunch, or what was left of it were now breathing down our necks. I don't know why I blew up so badly today, perhaps it was mental or simply I did not eat enough. Either way it happened and with 100km to go the group ripped past me and the victory we so desperately craved was gone. Formolo snuck through for another impressive top 5. Like me unfortunately he too had used up his biscuits earlier playing out our plan. Its been so motivating having him here and seeing all the hard work he has done over the winter paying off. He is literally bouncing of the walls with excitement in our hotel room each day. He is constantly marvelling at his own excellence in learning the english language, it seems every 5 minutes he through's a word out there he has no idea if its english or not, let alone the meaning of what he is saying! So when he gets its right he had a self satisfying chuckle to himself I can't help myself but find amusing. He really is a great character and a great team mate.
So a big big Bugger today!! Still on the bright side I am getting closer I guess to crossing the line first. I have been in many more positions this year so far then ever before where had I been smarter, more head strong perhaps, or simply a little stronger I may have taken the victory. The more times you put yourself in that position the more I my case I can learn from my mistakes. So having said that we will try and come up with another plan for tomorrow!!
Ave speed: 42.5kmph
Ave Power: 245watts
Max power: 1300watts
Ave Heart Rate: 138
Max Heart Rate: 202
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device