Dauphine Libere

What a difference a day makes - people usually use that sentence in a good context...a bad situation resolving...not this time. My immediate future was bright after Cali; I had some good form there and the plan was to build some more through altitude camp; then hit the dauphine well and fight for a Tour spot. After the Tour, my first Commonwealth games in the silver fern...but unfortunately everything went south after stage 4 in the dauphine! Preparation first started to go a bit pear shaped, maybe as early as the last day of California with the bad crash. Then a few days into altitude camp I started to get a bit crook, felt pretty sh*t for most of the camp but thought I was coming right so I kept training hard and was training pretty well. However the sickness turned into a lung infection and after a few days of coughing myself to sleep trying to do a sponsor event in France it was time to hit the antibiotics. I pulled up ok a few days before the dauphine and headed back to France for the race. The first few days weren’t terrible, the first big mountain day I lost 1'30" to Froome and told myself I would come right by the end of the week, however it all came undone a few stages later.

I'm well acquainted with the feeling of running on dust after last year's Giro. Essentially you loose the ability to go really deep into the red zone and you just suffer the whole race...you take every punch directly to the head and throw none back! I lost alot of time on a medium mountain stage and tried to pass it off as a "bad day" but the blood tests where showing the virus had had its way with me. Being an optimist, I often find myself in bad situations after intentionally ignoring the negative reality of things. The next few days I tried hard for redemption, to take something out of the race. There were crazy hard starts up hills and big breakaways getting away that would always go the finish, I would go all in to make them but my mind hadn’t quite caught up with the reality of how sh*t my body was and after a few minutes off the front I would pull the parachute and sink back through the peloton. Then I'd fight it out amongst the cars until the pace eased up and I could count down the kms to get to the finish. The next day, ignore and try it all again!

From a racing prospective the dauphine was an amazing race; I loved the course, the level of the riders there and the way everybody layed it all on the line. However nothing is fun when you are more of a participant than a competitor. I would have loved to be there healthy and fighting. As for the rest of the boys we had a good week, De Marchi took out the mountains jersey and the other boys were super active in every breakaway flying the banner for Cannondale, we never got the big win we wanted but there was no lack of trying.

It was a tall order to push on this long with no break in my schedule. I have been really full gas for a long time, since Paris–Nice I've hardly had a day at home, 3 altitude camps and a stack of super hard stage races. The initial goal was to be really good in May for the giro, things changed and I didn’t adapt well enough. It would take alot now for me to turn things around for the immediate future. I will shut it down for a week and see how I bounce back but the most likely situation now is to take a really good mid-season break, refresh the mind, body and soul and target the Vuelta.

I think at this stage I'll have to pull the plug on the Commonwealth games which really sucks. It's not a big thing in the cycling world but it's something that means alot to the people back home. There’s only a handful of people in New Zealand who know what the dauphine is but everyone knows the Commys. However to preform in the Vuelta you need to have some stage races in your legs and if I take a few months easy now there’s no way to really get good form off a one day race like the Commonwealth without heading to Poland or Utah first.

Not all the news from the front can be positive, this last week was a disaster for me at an important time of year but it's nice to have some time to assess the first half of the year and see where I was good and what I need to work on. I think it has been a good 4 months in general, the busiest 4 months of my life for sure. After a long skype with my trainer yesterday, it’s motivating to cover everything and work out how we can target this last half of the year. I've got alot of time without a race so it’s a chance to do it properly... judging by the amount of crap I've coughed up on my computer screen in the last 10mins writing this, recovering and getting healthy is the first priority. Maybe spend a few days looking for my new Spanish wife which I still haven’t found and then hit the pedals really hard!