Following yesterday adventure into the alps in sub artic conditions the forcaste for today was not much better. There were rumours flying around about course changes due to snow blocking the rd of the first mountain but at the end of the day the organisers had not other option than to send us on our way and hope for the best as basically it was the only road we could take to get into france from italy! Sure there are other roads and tunnels but tunnels are forbidden for bikes and I would suggest unhealthy and we did not want to have ride 300+km to find an alternative route so the course stayed as it was planned.
As often happens in cycling the riders quickly formed an agreement to make everyone happy and all stay together up and over the first pass and down the potentially cold and snowy decent before going hell for leather up the col d telegraphe and infamous galibier to the finish. This way the race went ahead as planned and all the riders were satisfied that they would be safe on this particular potentially risky part of the course. So how is this controlled? Well basically once the accord is struck up with the race leader I guess having the biggest say you would have to be a bit of a donkey to go against the wishes of the masses. The cycling world is small and it would surely bite you on the arse pretty hard if you did. So along with vincenso nibali some more senior and respected riders such as luca paolini, christian knees and our very own fabio sabatini set up shop on the front row and controlled the pace and also made it very clear that disobedience would not be tolerated. Being the end of the 2nd week of the giro is perhaps an easier time to police such a blockade as everyone is tired, everyone is sick of getting wet and cold, and I reckon everybody enjoyed the 60km or so of extra tranquillity in what's been as absolutely out of control unpredictable giro so far!
So all was going well with the agreement until the final km of the first climb where it was apparent that the road and conditions were no where near as dangerous or atrocious as was anticipated. At this point a few guys took off against the will of the bunch including the eventual stage winner gianni visconti. Its was perhaps a bit of a sneaky move but in reality a race is a race and if those particular guys wanted to break the accord then all the power to them. The peleton also ultimately has the ultimate say as we have 100+ strong dudes to pull if back if we want but it was let go and in the end gianni truly did an incredible job to hold onto the lead and win the stage.
Back in the field we descended to safety we now racing. The day was quite litteraly exactly what the doctor ordered for me and I was actually feeling much better than previous days. There were even moments of a good feeling returning to my legs!! Our job was now simple, have damiano in the best possible position for the start of the telegraph and the drag race up to the line. Sabatini and I traded turns down the vally to the base of the climb to keep the green train at the front and as we swung left onto the slopes of the telegraph saba was on the front, I was 4th wheel and damiano was tucked in safely behind me.
Once we hit the climb saba swung off job done and lotto took over. I decided to stay put at the front 3rd wheel behind them as It was nice to finally be back up the front on a major climb. After a few km and I was actually starting to enjoy being back amongst it, I knew cadel was on my left shoulder and vincenso on my right shoulder, I was great to be around these guys again where I have so much enjoyed being on the climbs in the early part of the season. With lotto pulling of the first attacks began and vincenso sent his boys to the front to start drumming out the tempo. At this point I decided I had tested myself enough and I am certainly improving but I am also aware that my turbo is still very short compared to normal and still needs more days to charge up so to avoid blowing up and prolonging the recovery process I sat up to continue it. So I dropped back to damiano, took his arm warmers and anything else he did not need, made sure he water and gells and started to role out the back of the bunch. Once at the back of the bunch I sat there while I waited for the car to arrive so as I knew if damiano had any dramas the team would be there for him and then I switched it off even more to a steady 140-150 zone so as I could enjoy these iconic climbs without suffering but also feel what there like as next time I come them I want to be racing up them not just riding up them.
Damiano did an awesome job hanging with the favourites and finishing another fine 12th so was a good day all round. I was really pleased with the day as now I can look toward tomorrows rest day and the final week with a little more optimism, am going to see if I can sleep for 20hrs in the next 24hrs!!
150km 4hrs 50min
Heart rate average 130
Power average 230
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