Team TT today which is my most favourite cycling event we get to do. With Elia Viviani wearing the best young riders jersey and the group buzzing from the work on the opening stage there was a great atmosphere in the Cannondale Pro Cycling camp.
The stage was held on the volcanic island of ischia, a 45min ferry ride of the coast of napels which was also a bit of a novel experience for the peleton on the morning of a giro stage! Once on the island we got a chance to ride the course and assess what we would face later in the day. What we found was a challenging course full of ups and downs and difficult to maintain a rhythm. I was immediately a little nervous as I knew my bronchitis was still niggling and with our pocket rocket explosive climbers on board of Samiento and Caruso I knew the pace would be frenetic on the rises which were not quite long enough to hold anything back but also a little too long to comfortably go full gas!
Add to that Elia Viviani's cannondale pro cycling leadout locomotive express train of Dallantonia, Sabatini and Marangoni who blew the field to pieces yesterday and it was certainly always going to be a day to buckle your seat belt and like a bull ride in rodeo hold on for as long as I could contribute.
At 16:10 we roled down the ramp and sure enough I immediately knew I was in strife, fabio sabatini fresh from his destructive leadout 24hrs earlier led us off and I was immediately at full gas. It did not get much better from there as just as I was about to take my first turn my chain slipped of the big ring and I had to swing over and sort it out before rejoining the line. I finally got into a rhythm and was soon on the front as we hit the first decent. I cranked up the pace as much as possible and as you always seem to do when you get the lead the pain disappears. Back in the line and again there were some difficult moments as caruso and samiento took us up and over some of those niggling climbs. Now my breathing was in trouble and I was not able to breath up, recuperate and get comfortable. Sure enough with 5km to go on the last main steep little pinch I nailed myself to mast and gave it one last dig before I knew I was done. Trying to hang on would only have inhibited my team mates and it was just not my day today. In the end the boys did an awesome job only loosing only 35 seconds to sky. At halfway we were just 11seconds back but with me and 3 others dropping off in the last half the green machine lost a bit of steam. I know in reality I let them down but at least I know in myself there was nothing more I could contribute today, it simply was not my day. I obviously spent some energy yesterday and in the end the type of course and effort was exactly what my body was not super keen on being apart of today.
The best part about today for me was its the first TTT I have done that has felt so good and aggressive. Basically to be competitive in these things you need to get on the front and do a all out sprint, all be it in the TT position for 10-20seconds and then do your best to get back in the line and recover while the next rider move forward and feeds it some chain. So basically its consists of 2 all out sprints, one on the front, then one to get back on the end of the train, might look easy on tele but to go fast it is far from easy out on the rd.
Today from the get go I was on the limit and that's exactly how it should be. Ok you don't want to be maximum revs but certainly at a point where if you had to go a little hard you would explode which you want to avoid doing for as long as possible to contribute as much as possible. At full health being on the limit is no drama but with bronchitis and riding a TTT with some of the most powerfull cyclists in the world its a whole new box of skittles. None the less I know now much more than before what it takes, I have suffured from the first 100m and given it my all for the 12km after that and in a small way been able to contribute to what was a great result by the cannondale team finishing in 10th, bang in the middle of the field. Its another great showing by the boys in green and now having felt the full brunt of Elia Viviani's leadout train in marrangoni, sabatini and dall antonia and I am pretty excited to see what happens at the next sprint finish in the giro.
For me now its time to relax and try and recover from a pretty crazy couple of days racing, 2 days which considering the circumstances I am pleased to have behind me and have contributed in some way. Tomorrow starts a couple of long days will be looking for a quiet spot in the bunch to clear this chest up and get myself ready for the challenging final couple of weeks.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device