Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE Vuelta Stage 6: Wawa can climb!

You know my least favorite thing about racing at this level, especially in Spain? It’s that we don’t start until 1pm on many days. Nevermind that that means the race is in the hottest part of the day, that’s not even what bothers me most. It’s because I’m an old man that likes to eat early and go to bed early, and get up with the sun and have breakfast early. No, I don’t particularly enjoy being awoken by my body clock 2 hours before breakfast and having dinner at 10pm because our race didn’t even end until nearly 7. I got into bed at midnight yesterday and slept 15 minutes at a time from 7am until I finally gave up at 8:30. Like I said, I’m an old man.

Guess what?! Today’s stage was hot! The break got away fairly quickly, but it took a while for the field to finally stop attacking behind. Then it became a massive coast-off, as none of the teams with GC riders wanted to take the front. For the second day, Orica refused to put even one rider up front even though they led the race. And so the gap continued to grow…and grow…and grow. It ballooned to nearly 15 minutes before Garmin took over and set what would be a most uncomfortable pace for the rest of the day.

We had a handful of climbs to contend with before the final cat 1 finish climb. We were never going extremely fast, but everyone was really suffering. All the guys were staying busy shuttling bottles to Warren, Lawson, and me the whole day. The plan was for us to support Warren as long as we could on the final climb.

The 20 minutes before reaching the base of the climb were actually really hard, as everyone wanted to get their climber into the base in the perfect position. I got pinched off from the guys early on, just before we went single file. We stayed single file for a long time, and I didn’t have the legs to get back up to them. I wasn’t so far back, but every time somebody sat up and left a gap, I had to use more energy to close it. The legs I’d been saving were wasted because of bad positioning.

I did nothing the whole day so that I could help Warren at the end, but by the time we got there I couldn’t do anything. So I’m a bit frustrated about that. Thankfully the others got Warren to the base in second wheel, and he had a great climb to jump into the top-10 on GC.

We’re well into the stage-race vortex now, as we frequently forget what stage we’re on (another good reason to rip the completed stages out of the race book). My legs can tell that we’re a week into the race, but our soigneur just told me that my legs are feeling better each day. I’ll take his word for it. The upcoming stages will provide some more opportunities for John to win, so I’m excited to see what we can do.

6 down, 15 to go!