Tour of Cali
If I wasn't tired enough after 8 days of racing yesterday I certainly am now. Sitting in the airport lounge after a bloody good night out in LA with the team, staff, sponsors and supporters, sharing a cold one or two and reflecting on a week that was pretty testing for me personally and for us as a team.
I won't go stage by stage but long story short the first 4 stages we rode very well. They were four bunch sprints but we controlled it when we needed to and saved Chris as much as possible. Stage 5 was the 30km individual time trail and despite Jens Voight once again doing the impossible and taking 2nd on the stage, me personally and our teams hopes of winning overall came undone. It was 40degrees C and drier than a weetbix factory with some wind to make it a tough day for a time trial. I was chasing my old team mate Joe Dombrowski and I knew if I could catch him I'd have a good time...perfect carrot! I started well and after 5km was 20seconds up and building but early in the race I had dropped my drink bottle early on by mistake. I got thirstier and thirstier and by half way I was starting to feel the effects. The last 5km were hard uphill head wind and by this time the stitch had set in (a whole other story) and the vision was going pretty blury. I hit the line with a pretty average time and was in a bad way. My throat closed over pretty bad and then breathing became big problem, after a little panic attack and some scary minutes I came right and was written off for the rest of the day. Between the stitch (side cramps) and dehydration that was the most painful 40minutes I've had in a very long time. However in the scheme of things me doing a bad time didn't matter but when our GC rider Chris Horner had tough day out there also and lost a lot of time to other contenders we had to make a new plan. One thing that amazed me is although I'm sure he was devastated about the TT result, he kept such a good attitude and a positive state of mind for the sake of the team, if i was in his position for me it would of been very hard to keep my toys in the cot so it shows he has a lot of class.
The next day, we put rast in the break and the rest of us rolled in with the bunch, for me this was a very very shit day. I was on struggling street, as I'd pushed so hard through the events the previous day (stitch, dehydration etc.), I'd torn some muscle tissue in the diaphragm so was in pain from the outset. My allergies were bad and my feet were hurting also. Surprisingly my legs were still ok. Looking back I just needed some concrete pills to harden up.
Stage 7 was the day were had been waiting for, Mt. Baldy. If we waited for the final climb maybe we had a chance at a stage win with Chris but no way could he take back the time he lost. The stage was basically 8km flat, 30km up hill, go down then turn around and finish back on top of the hill. From the gun we got Jens and Greg in the break and as soon as we hit the hill I lit it up as hard as I could. Next minute Horner was on my wheel and we had 4 RSNT riders laying it all on the line in the break. Greg rode his heart out and pulled off so it was up to me, Chris and Jens to drive it. By this stage I had the worst stitch I would think possible (i feel it now sitting in the airport lounge when breathing!)! Jens and I did what we could (jens mostly) and left chris with a 3.30 lead over the peleton and a 50km mountain to hold them off. He gave all he could and was very impressive but the peleton worked together and pulled him back in the dying kilometers.
For us, the Tour of Cali is a huge race, sponsors and supporters put a lot into this race. We were gutted we couldn't pull off the overall win for them but they never stopped supporting us and I'm happy we put on a good show. All or nothing was the speech from jose before the stage and we couldn't do much more.
A huge thanks for all the supporters that came out to watch and the entourage of support that followed the team all week, I couldn't believe the amount of kiwis who came over to support. Earlier in the week I met a guy I only knew as Mike from Wellington who had come over to support and also shared a drink with us on the last night. Checking into the airport I see a guy with big JENS JENS JENS (jens voight is an A-list celeb over here) t-shirt on and it's mike heading back to NZ on my flight. I must look a little shattered because the first thing he says is I need an upgrade on my seat back to NZ so a big shout out to Michael Burrowes from BURROWES and company in Wellington for the seat upgrade, I don't even want to think what I would be like after another 12hours in the holding pen.
Sorry about the long post but I've a lot of time to kill, picked up some good yarns from the week but I'll save those for a rainy day. Thanks again to everyone back home for all the messages and things. It's hard to reply to everyone but I do receive everything that comes in via the site and appreciate it.
My power numbers have been better race by race and form is back, if I'm honest I'm really worried about the stitch problem I'm having but I know I'll have the attention of the best guys to look into it. I've been racing non stop over the last few months so I'm shutting it down for an easy week back in NZ focusing on taking a breath and soothing my soul in Aniseed valley. After that it will be back into some building kilometers and will race again in Ster Elektro but the next focus for me is Tour of Austria.peace