Today we jumped straight into a ITT, a nice way to get our engines running again after yesterday’s day of leisure. The 38.8km course was pretty straight forward: 18km up and 20.8km down! Like the rest of the Vuelta, I don’t remember there being much in the way of flat so you always had something to think about. Add to that the wind that was blowing its backside off and what should have been a straightforward course became somewhat challenging.
Fabian Cancellara demolished the field as expected; not only on the downhill but also on the way up. A very dominant display but no surprises – he was looking in superb nick in the first week. Ivan had a great TT to be inside the top 20 and remain in seventh place on GC.
Today was a stage he feared so was great to see he handle the pressure exceptionally well and limit his losses while clawing back some precious seconds on the others ahead of him on GC. Today he never expected to do anything to win the Vuelta, but he certainly could have fallen out of the GC race so it’s encouraging that by day end he’s even more in contention for the podium battle now. He will certainly be chipper at dinner this evening.
For me today was a day of tranquility. I need to take every opportunity possible to limit the stress on my body so as I can handle racing with a broken bone for the next ten days. Today’s TT offered the chance to ride a nice steady tempo and have another quiet day. It was also important for me to understand what agitates the rib whilst on the bike so I can manage the situation for the remainder of the race.
I need to figure these things out as quickly as possible before the Pyrenees so I can be back on deck to help Ivan. We don’t have any space for passengers in this team. Injured or not, if you pin the number on you make a commitment to do all you can to contribute to the success of the team. There are no “easy passes” handed out for sympathy in this sport, that’s for certain!
Today I slept in as long as possible; until around 9:30am. We had a delicious breakfast. Our chef Alex makes the most unbelievable omelets and I don’t know how I’d start my day without them. After brekkie I have a bit of down time before heading out to the TT. I didn’t bother riding the course as I’m trying to avoid time on the road and its potential hazards whenever possible because of this fractured rib.
My warm-up was a gentle 45-minute spin, slowly building my heartrate up to 150BPM as after that point my rib started to get agitated. Ten minutes before the start I hopped off the trainer, pulled on my TT helmet and headed off the starting ramp. My only objective today was to finish inside the time limit and to do this figured that I just needed to keep my heart rate between 140-160bpm — no higher or lower, I would be fine.
My TT position takes a lot of weight off my upper body so I knew if I could stay in that position for as much of my ride as possible, I would limit the pain. Combine this with keeping my heart rate no higher than 160bpm was about as pain-free as I could have wished for.
I had hoped that the painkillers would have more of an effect. About 30 minutes after taking the painkillers I asked the doctor how long they take to kick in and dull the pain. I was on the trainer and noticed that real deep breaths were still causing me discomfort. The doctor told me they are the strongest pain killers he has. I said, “yeah doc but I still feel pain!!” He said, “Cameron in case you have forgotten you have a fractured bone in your body, it’s still going to hurt a lot.” Basically just shut up and deal with it! Dealing with it was not my concern. I just wanted to understand how much I will need to deal with. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t!
My 38.8km was actually very enjoyable. I maintained my position and the whole time just wanted to push harder. I stayed in control and just did the best I could within the limits I set for myself. Nobody overtook me so I knew I wasn’t stressed about being safely inside the time limit. I went at absolute pedestrian pace down the 10km plunge to the finish as I was not taking any risks on crashing today.
All of a sudden 6km from the finish Dario (our DS) flew passed in the team-car which I assumed must have been in protest at how slow I was going. However, it was his fatherly instincts kicking in as he heard on the radio that there was a crash ahead and he knew was the closest team-car. When I saw him he was out of the car telling me to slow down. A OPQS rider ahead of me had a horrible accident 5km from the finish and it sounded like he busted every bone in his body. My thoughts are with him and I hope he’s getting some good care at whatever hospital he’s in.
Fabian’s finish time gave me an absolute hiding, but I had a wry smile when I saw the GC following today’s stage with him sitting one place behind me! He may have won today’s battle, but I am winning the war! Just joking; GC has no significance whatsoever for guys like him a grand tour. He’s either leading them for his team or destroying the peloton for his team mates (and they are more often than not leading!) He’s a true class act.
It was another positive day for the team with Ivan’s GC position, and from my perspective a positive day of continuing the race with my little niggle that will now follow me around for the remainder of the Vuelta. Tomorrow sees a day that will either favour a breakaway or a hard bunch sprint. Either way it looks like a great day for Ratto so I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on the road to Taragona.