Time for a bit of an update from the tour of california. The first few days have not been some of the most enjoyable days I have had racing this year, Infact it's definitely been the most difficult ones I have faced. This time last year I was suffering through the giro with allergies and unfortunately a change in continent for the month of may has changed what's seems to be an annual miserable may as far as my respiration goes! It's bizarre, until mid to late April all feels great and then as if turning on a switch I just don't feel right at this time of year. Anyways this issues I have had here in california have been more through lack of anticipation on my part with taking my preventative medication but now I am ontop of that again I am doing my best to get back amongst the race. Basically I have spent the first 4 days well and truly playing the ropa dope simply trying to survive to the next round and help out where possible. It's had its positives, I haven't been on bottle duty much this year so has been fun re aquainting myself with the skills associated with shoving as many icy cold drink bottles down my jersey! To be honest due to the searing heat it's been a pleasurable cooling task! Anyways enough of that, I am still here and I am still swinging and today we started with a fresh slate and clear objective for stage 5.
Today's stage was absolutely perfect for our fearless team leader peter sagan. I nice but nasty little 5km climb with 30km of the finished on paper appeared to be the perfect place for the boys in green to ramp up the pace and distance some of the other sprinters and let peter do his thing on the run into santa barbara. So with a likely winner in the team we hatched a simple but what we felt was an effective plan to deliver peter to the finish.
My role was the one I enjoy the most. Stay alert at the start and do what possible to dictate the size and composition of the daily breakaway group. The heat meant nobody seemed to keen to charge up the road and it didn't take long until the field were happy to send 6 men on there way. After not catching the breakaway yesterday I wasn't taking any chances today. As soon as they had a couple of minutes I immediately went to the front to keep some momentum in the group going. Thing is if you ride easy then they can ride easy to gain a big gap, If you just ride regular, say 250-300watts which is nice and cruisey then they need to at least apply a little pressure to the pedals to gain a significant advantage. I am happy if they have there gap I would just prefer for them to take on some fatigue to gain it, makes it a little easier to chase them down later. Anyways GB, the canadian cannonball and I were incharge of ensuring we got the boys the base of the final climb with the breakaway under control. This ended up a being a little more relaxing than we envisaged as the gap never got above 2min 30seconds all day so meant we could comfortably control it and not have to call upon any help from the boys until the final climb. Ted was like a pack horse with the water bottles all day along with bodnar and the rest of the gang. The boys were so good at bringing up water bottles that I had the luxery of having one to pour over my head for most of the day. In 40+ degree temperatures this is absolutely priceless and definitely makes a big difference in your ability to drum out a tempo on the front of the bunch for 130km so big thanks to the boys for that. So by the time we got to the base of the climb, GB and I had done our job and it was now time for our climbing kiwi George Bennett to turn the screw on the field and she'll as many sprinters as possible.
Onto the climb and I immediately put the hazard lights on! I had long since over heated and was now simply in getting to the finishline mode. I am not even the faintest of a shadow of my usual self thanks to these allergies this week so need to save what limited energy levels I have. Besides we have 3 more days and I want to contribute as much as possible so saving some energy here and there is the logical thing to do to be of any use to the boys.
Back to the race and onto the climb and George started drumming out his tempo. He quickly and very unceremoniously dropped all the sprinters that finished infront of peter on stage 1 so peter was now the red hot favorite for the anticipated sprint amongst the selection formed on the climb. Unfortunately just as it seemed all the foundations had been layed a red locomotive in the form of Taylor phinney charged out of the peleton and down the decent at a bullet a gate and wouldn't be seen again until everybody else arrived at the finish line 15seconds after he had! Our boys immediately reacted and did all they could to bring him back but it seemed nothing was stopping the American today. With our biggest engines in bodnar and koren churning away on the front, a tandam that most would never bet against pulling back any move be it big or small, but today just wasn't meant to be. Best on ground would have to have been George today however. Not only did he drum out the pace on the climb but he was right there in the thick of it on the flat doing all he could to give peter a shot at the victory, a very very impressive performance indeed. But in the end we can't be disappointed, we all did what was asked and peter also duly gobbled up 2nd place on the stage which also put him into the lead in the green points jersey so we certainly finished the day with more than we started with so that's great. Also testament to peter whom it could be viewed has had a quieter than normal start to this year's tour of cali but he is still the most consistent sprinter in the race by virtue of having the points jersey. Yep sagan truly is a class act and we still have 3 days left so today should just be the start of cannondale's late run in the 2014 tour of cali!
Time for some sleep