It was the case of calm before the storm today. The longest stage of the giro at 254km presented like every giro stage a chance for anything and everything to happen! After a pretty rapid start were we banged out 25km in under half an hour a manageable sized group of 7 skipped clear in search of stage glory. The following 40km followed a regular occurrence in the professional peleton, the who's going to commit to chasing first? We wont pull if you don't or we will give one guy if you do is bantered around between teams interested in the contesting the stage win and of course a large element of bluff aswell in trying to see which team cracks first and starts riding. The problem with this little game going on is that the peleton is Rollin along quite literally at pedestrian pace and the breakaway are pulling themselves km's clear of the field at the same time. So it's quite an interesting period in a race to see how it pans out! Often and like today it is the calm before the storm as one minute you rolling along enjoy your favorite snacks and chatting with your buddies and the next once a team team Decides to work you are all off a sudden in the middle of a nervous peleton with the only thing you are chewing on is your headstem!
Today was once of these such days. Not only did quickstep make an abrupt decision along with green edge to set the pace to ensure a bunch sprint today, where they started drumming out there tempo coincided with extreme crosswinds! This immediately put the peleton into 5 groups and this would be the way it went for the next 140km, split, re group, split, re group so we had had the calm and the storm unfortunately lasted alot longer and was very severe. Our goals for the da were as usual, look after Elia for the sprint and keep damiano up front and out of trouble so fortunately we were not on the wrong end of splits in the peleton but it certainly required alot of stressful energy to ensure this so was a nice solid day that's for sure. In the first 60km I was enjoying my choc coated multipower bars but in the next 200 I was living of the rip the lid and slam down gells to limit the amount of time my hands were of the handlebars!
The only obstacles on the stage were a few climbs in the final 50km but in the end were not enough to dislodge the motivated sprinters from the front group. I had a flat tyre just before the first climb on a fast descent which like the other day left me a long way behind the bunch. Fortunately my habit of acknowledging other staff members from other team gave me the turbo hand today as I fought my way back from the back of the convoy. The Astana director whom I met in Tenerife saw me in a little difficulty and put out his hand with a gel and gave me a nice turbo sling right into the back of the main convoy. Another reminder of the importance of always being polite and acknowledging those within the sport. This saved me and I then made my way into the back of the bunch just as the climb began. Unfortunately not long after a big gap opened up and I was still well and truly aboard my pain train as I have been for the past 2 weeks and had the put up the white flag and save whatever energy is still in my body for the weekends mountain stages ahead.
Up ahead elia's green locomotive train was in full swing and shepperding him all the way the finish before performing a text book lead out inside the final km. It has been a long hard couple of weeks and in the end Elia would sprint to a very respectable 5th, showing his class as alway being among the best I. The bunch sprints at this years giro. Damiano finished safely in the front group and courtesy of the retirement of sir wiggo he moved p to 19th place overall so continues to keep moving in the right direction.
They say the giro really begins tomorrow which is a pretty scary thought so think I am going to need a big sleep! No worse, no better, I am hanging in there! Always going to sleeping dreaming that tomorrow things will start to improve!
255km 6hrs 15min
Average heart rate 115
Average power 220