It was a pretty quiet day here for me at the Tour of Colorado. After all the excitement of yesterday’s stage I was greeted with the harsh reality of the efforts made to chase down Jensie and my pins where far from happy from the moment the flag dropped.
Today’s stage was tailor-made for a breakaway to contest the stage win and that’s exactly what happened. Mr. Versatile himself Cristiano Salerno flew the green machine flag nice and high and was one of the brave men to make the escape. Simply to make today’s breakaway was a huge achievement in itself as it wasn’t until 55 kilometers in that the 10 riders finally were let loose. I think at this point the entire peleton was relieved after the flat-out start and nobody was interested in trying to pull them back. As a result, this was the last we would see of them all day.
Back in the group I relished the opportunity to recharge the batteries. Yesterday’s result emphatically showed that Elia (Viviani) is our best chance of glory here this week. With another sprint opportunity on Sunday in Denver we will need all the mumbo jumbo we can muster! With this in mind we all rallied around Eelia in the bunch and saved as much fuel as possible. While the race situation was perfect for us with Cristiano up the road, we took it easy in the bunch. But the rockies weather variability had returned!
Half way through the stage the cloudy skies decided to open up and dump bucket loads of ice water on us sending shivers through the peloton! To add to this we had wind coming from what seemed like every which way and it was utterly miserable. I don’t recall seeing any smiling faces in the final couple of hours of the stage!
We rolled along and with a nasty 5km climb in the final 20km, those of us looking for a quiet day knew that this was the point at which we could putter home at our leisure. Of course the climb sparked the GC riders into action to try and unsettle each other ahead of tomorrow’s TT, but in the end the breakaway was well clear and would inevitably decide the race winner.
With the final 20km all above 3000m elevation I have to honour all those brave soles who battled it out for the stage win. After hours in the wet freezing cold and to lay it all on the line with no oxygen takes a serious set of swingers, so hats of to all the breakaway men and the day’s winner Didier from Trek.
With the rain and cold there are quite a few things that make the day difficult. First, it’s raining and cold so you hard pressed finding anyone on the planet that enjoys this feeling. Second, you’re constantly contemplating how many layers and which type of rain coat best to wear. This is more complex than it sounds as personally I carry no less than 6 rain coats: A short and long sleeve spray jacket, a waterproof Gortex rain jacket, a lightweight & heavyweight neoprene jacket, and a an additional light wind vest for cold descents. As conditions change so to does you garment requirements but unfortunately as conditions rapidly deteriorate in today’s case, it’s not so easy to go back to the car and put on a rain jacket in the wind and freezing rain. Your hands are often numb and it requires all your energy just to stay in the peloton so you are faced with the dilemma of staying cold but safely in the group, or take the gamble and go and get more clothes and risk getting dropped! Yep today was one of those days.
In the end I decided to go back to the car for additional layers and stopped on the side of the road, put on my warm jacket and was immediately feeling much better about the world! Elia did the same so I paced him back to group and while it was a rather long chase back on between the cars, it was certainly worth it to be warm (relatively speaking). At least were no longer shivering!
The other unpleasant thing about the wet freezing cold is that eating becomes very difficult. First, water and god know what else is flying up in your face and mouth and as a result you just don’t feel hungry. You know better that you need to eat but to eat your fingers are frozen! Add the fact you have one or two layers of rain coats on covering you jersey pockets and all of a sudden eating become just too hard! Even if you did manage to fish around and grab an energy bar or gel from your back pocket, there’s a good chance that your numb hands will drop it before it gets anywhere near your mouth! It sometimes seems all to much so that’s the reason that on rainy days I always carry bottles with sugar and then just hope I’ll have enough fuel to get to the finish line! Today I was running on vapours by the time I crawled through the finish line but fortunately it was a long decent to the finish!
Yep, today was almost a nice relaxing day but thanks to the variability, which is also the beauty of the Rockies, today turned into another Tour of Colorado memorable adventure.
It’s the Time Trial tomorrow so I’m looking forward to that. It means I only need to suffer for around 30 minutes!