Tuesday, September 2, 2014

THE Vuelta Stage 10: Pretending like I'm time trialing

Time trial days are always strange, because everyone is on a different schedule. The logistics for a day like today are surprisingly complicated. The race start was an hour away from the hotel, and the race finish was 1.5 hours from the next hotel. So riders are coming and going in waves along with the staff and team cars. Eventually, we all end up at the same place.

Like I said before, this would be my second time trial ever in which my only goal was to finish safely within the time limit. Time cut today was huge, at 35%, so as long as I actually pedaled I’d be safe. I did plan to go somewhat hard on the climbs to wake my legs up again, though. I was very relaxed while getting ready, and quite ambivalent towards the warmup. Seeing as it was the longest TT I’ve done in nearly a year, however, I knew that I’d appreciate a decent warmup after nearly an hour in my aggressive position.

The start was really bizarre, on some sort of bike path through/around a castle. I just kept wondering where the heck I was going. Finally I popped out onto something resembling a road and settled into a hard tempo that I’d hold all day.

I wasn’t completely blind on course thanks to video that the guys took during their recon yesterday. They said there were a few dangerous corners, so I took a look at those beforehand. I would be taking zero risks during the TT, but it’s always good to be prepared.

As such, there was only one time today that I was a bit scared. Just before the final climb at the top of the course, there’s one really fast downhill with a little whoopty-do at the bottom. I lost all downforce when I hit the whoopty-do at over 90kph, then the really strong winds came underneath me and I could barely get the bike to lean over through the next turn.

I took it easy on the descent that Quintana crashed on later. The next 15km were really fast, moderately technical, and really bumpy. They had freshly resurfaced a bumpy road, so it looked nice but my arms were definitely tired by the end. I had a deep front wheel and was really fighting it in the winds on that bumpy road, and knew that the little GC riders would really struggle there.

I finished in 52 minutes, 5 minutes down from Tony Martin’s winning time. I felt really good all day and was never going hard, so I’m excited about the days to come. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Warren yet, so I don’t know how he feels about his ride, but he dropped to 15th on GC and will certainly be looking to climb back up into the top-10 in the next week. I’ll be doing everything I can to help him.

10 down, 11 to go!