Today we hit the dolomites for the first of many occasions over the next 6 weeks! The 2nd stage of the giro del trentino took us right into the heart of this mythical cycling paradise and provided a good test for the riders gearing up for the giro. I had been very excited about this stage. On paper it looked very hard with a mid race mountain and mountain top finish. Also covering 230km I had hoped it would be a real race of attrition. Sadly it was not and basically felt like we were going down hill all day.
Surfice to say the entire group arrived at the final climb fresh as daisies and with only 15km between the group and the finish I was determined to some how find a way to stretch my legs. The days plan was to protect ivan basso and do a little rehersal for the giro. When the eventual winner kosta suitsov attacked 10km from the finish with pierre rolland I was right in the perfect spot to follow, instead I hesitated and looked back for ivan and decided it was best to ride tempo on the front and keep it smooth for him and attempt to deter any other attacks and a chaotic climb!
It seemed to work and for 5km I was where I like to be, on the front with a clear road ahead. I merely kept the escapees at arms length and waited the move of the riders behind. Eventually with 5km to go astana took over and I swung asside. Ivan was in a perfect position and now it was up to him to. Follow the favourites. I was far from spent but with still a few weeks until the giro and tour of romandi next week I was not going to stretch myself today, important was to ride a good tempo and see what damage that could do to the group. In hindsight I should have given astana the baton earlier as they had plenty of numbers but its best to learn that today than at the giro. I won't make that mistake again!
In the end Ivan continues to show improvement as he builds toward his crack at another giro podium. I felt ok, not super duper but that's not unusual on days like today where its not so hard. Anyways friday we have another mt finish so will be a good chance to learn from where we went wrong today and see how we can improve things during that important test.
All in all a productive day and a great feeling to have my face in the wind on the front of the bunch again.
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