Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE Vuelta: Stage 1 TTT

One stage down, 20 to go!

Today was a very relaxed start for us, but unfortunately I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I was so excited about today’s race that I couldn’t shut my brain off, instead laying there for 2 hours before falling asleep after midnight. But my internal clock didn’t get the message and I awoke at 7:30, right on schedule.

We got 3 laps of practice in on the course during the day: 1 lap easy to learn the course a bit, then an 80% TTT effort, followed by an easier TTT effort just to get one more lap under our belts.

The course was technical, that’s for sure. Some 20+turns/roundabouts in 12.5km are tough anyways, but with 9 guys, technique becomes even more crucial. Just to make things even more complicated, the road surface was polished to a nice shine from years of oil and rubber without rain.

Spectators really love to watch 9 guys ride their trainers all at once, it seems. We got through our prescribed warmup routine, complete with ice vests and the slush drink mix while turning down for what, I don’t know. Then we were off to the start house, where 9 lovely ladies in high heels struggled to hold 9 big bike racers (well, 8, but I don’t want to leave Johannes out) upright. In fact, Koen’s holder nearly fell over and he had to put a foot down just before our start.

I was 2nd in line, behind John and ahead of Warren. I also had the privilege of being the team’s cameraman for the day, with Shimano’s sweet new camera under my butt.

My first pull was over 400m of cobbles, and I was doing my best to go at 80%. I was so excited for the race that I knew I would go too hard, and blowing the whole team up in the first 3 minutes would not be good. So I was holding back, yet every time I looked down I saw 550w. It wouldn’t always feel so nice, but I felt great then!

During our 80% recon effort, I thought, “yeah, we can go 20% faster through the turns,” but for every single turn during the actual race, I thought, “aaagggghhh, we’re going SO MUCH FASTER!” On the whole, we had a very solid run, but there were definitely a handful of small mistakes that cost us some time (and then there was that time that the camera moto ran into Warren)—but that is the case for every team. On that course, it wasn’t the team that had the most horsepower that won, but the team with the best TEAM effort. So kudos to Movistar, but we’re still quite pleased with our 6th-place effort!

Over our 14:30 effort, I averaged 404w with a normalized power of 432. Heart rate: quite high.

Then it was back to the hotel for massages and dinner and typing this up quickly, and it’s already past 11pm. Hopefully I can fall asleep now, but we’ll see…