David Tanner’s Giro Diary: pushing the limits

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Hey everyone. I’m guessing most of you keen followers of the Giro back in Australia would be a little tired by now, with all those late nights staying up watching the race. Not half as tired as us riders however! It’s been a very hard and eventful week so far with the climax and icing on the cake to come tomorrow.

Like I mentioned in the last blog, I was sure that Tuesday’s queen stage (stage 16) would be completely ridiculous in every aspect. And I was right. It’s definitely a day I want to forget.

On these Grand Tours you have so many moments where you are going beyond your limits. Like when you’re descending the Gavia in a snow storm and you don’t know if you’re braking or not because your so cold, you can’t see with your glasses on because the snow builds up, and if you take them off the snow stings your eyes so you can’t see either. Or maybe you’re having a bad moment at the bottom of a 20km climb and are tearing yourself inside out for an hour, hanging on for dear life.

The thing is, once it’s over you get in the bus, have a hot shower and something to eat and by the time your massage is over it’s almost like you’ve hit reset. The punishment is forgotten and you’re ready to do it all over again the next day. It applies to everyone — the guys pulling on the front, the GC guys fighting up the last climb and guys just trying to survive.

As we all know their was a bit of controversy after that mad stage with the guys taking off on the descent after it had been announced they were neutralising the front group. For me the whole thing was a mess. If anything the descent off the Stelvio was fine, but the Gavia decent was just wrong, pure and simple.

I can only speak for myself here, but in these situations you don’t think straight. You can’t, otherwise you would come to your senses and get off the bike. You’re in survival mode, nothing else. So it’s hard to say if those guys tried to take advantage of the situation or not. What is clear is that the whole thing was poorly handled by either the UCI or race organisation or both. I’ll leave it at that.

The last Grand Tour I did was the Vuelta a Espana last year which was said to be a very hard edition. I was fortunate to be much better in the second half than the first half but looking back I took that for granted because the Giro this last week hasn’t been nice. You can’t compare race to race but you are either coping well and recovering or ticking off the days and in survival mode. If you’re in the latter, staying focused and determined is the main priority.

My main motivation is to be there for our leader Wilco Kelderman (whom, I might add, is going great) and be of use to the team as much as I can be. Little things like getting him a coke and dropping him off in the front before the final climb can mean the difference.

So tomorrow we have the final big hurdle with the last hard stage finishing on the Zoncolan. Before we get there we have a few first category climbs for good measure. Hopefully knowing that it’s the last big challenge will mean it will pass OK for everyone but it will be extremely hard all the same. If you’re enjoying watching the spectacle, that’s what the organisers are hoping for!

I’d better be off to bed as tonight I’m going to need a good captain snooze.


Click here to read more about David Tanner and click here to follow him on Twitter.

Follow the links to read previous installments in this series:

– Part 1: the build-up
– Part 2: ciao Ireland, bonjourno Italy!
– Part 3: the food we eat
– Part 4: the rest day
– Part 5: what’s in my suitcase
– Part 6: ‘Salve!’ from Lake Iseo

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