Well it's 3 am...I've just woke up with a hard kick in the face by my old mate "jet lag" and instead of wasting time taking an inventory of imaginary sheep, I've decided to fill you all in on my latest Californian experience! We headed out to Lake Tahoe for a week before the race for a top up of altitude. I'm not sure it’s a great idea directly before a race, not only can the altitude affect you for a few days, it was pretty cold up there so heading down to San Francisco after being in the snow one day and 40degrees the next was a bit of a struggle but we did it and I guess long term getting another stint up high is good. Not much to report from Lake Tahoe except that it's scenic. I think we were there at a bad time of year because it's not ski season, but put your leg warmers on and don’t swim in the lake.
Tour of Cali itself was awesome, firstly this years race diet has been mostly world tour events on small roads with everyone trying to kill each other all the time. California on the other hand was big roads, small peloton, great weather, great hotels and awesome food (cheers scratch labs). It's just a fun bike race; I love racing my bike there and there's so many cool people involved. Instead of retiring to the room early to watch movies you sit out on the veranda and spin some yarns with old friends. I always kept an eye on the Giro and after 6 consecutive days of rain and crashes I was very stoked Cannondale had brought me out to America instead!
The first few days of the race were not good for me, the hill top on Mt. Diablo was a shocker, super hot. I thought I was on a good day but had ran out of water about 7km from the top! I was sitting 3rd wheel the whole way up and didn’t want to risk going back, it caught up with me and in the space of 30 seconds my body did a 180 and with 1500 meters left in the climb I stopped pedalling fast. However the week turned around in the last 4 days of the race, I had some fun splitting the groups on the climbs and trying to get Peter up for some wins. We eventually did it on stage 7 with one of the coolest days of racing I've had. Basically a few of the boys kept the break close for 80km, then the last half I got to ride every climb as fast as our big boys could go (which was faster than the other teams sprinters) and 4 of us pulled the whole way home and Peter finished it off! It's awesome pulling when you know your guy is going to win, it was touch and go all day if the big group behind us would come back so by the end of that day I was pedalling squares. I knew I had good form so I was keen to show some climbing legs after the bad day up Mt. Diablo, so the second mountain top finish I gave it the jandal as they say back home...4 guys from the break survived but I snuck into the selection of 5 from the peloton and ended up 9th on the stage.
Sh*t went south pretty fast on the last stage, there was a big crash after 20km and I went down pretty hard. Things were a bit fuzzy after that but essentially I got a new bike, sprinted off down the hill to come back to the bunch and 500 meters later rode full speed into a guard rail...that crash destroyed me. It was a scary moment lying there trying to figure out what is broken and if I can walk, eventually I got up and back to the bunch but my back was really damaged and my head was still very dizzy so I just pulled what I could on the front for Peter and shut it down on the last lap down the hill. I was in no state to get down there fast, normally after a crash where I dropout of any GC result or a chance to fight I would be super p*ssed off but I couldn’t help feel how lucky I was. 4 days later my back is still sore and bruised up but I'm sure if some of those knocks where a few cm in different places I would be in a spinal unit in LA.
So now the ever lasting road trip that is my pro cycling career continues, I had a late call up to another altitude camp, this time in San Pellegrino, Italy. It's beautiful up here, a far cry from the chaos of the last few days in California! We had a good time at the Cannondale block party, a huge turn out of fans came to say what up and share a few beers with us, it was the first time I have meet the American side of Cannondale pro cycling, such good people involved in the company and the team management. They pulled out all the stops for us so thanks to them for turning it on.Rock on,