Stage 4 of the giro d'italia was yet another role along the amalfi coast. The stage was surprisingly un stressful for a first week of the giro which gave us a chance to take in the view a little more than was possible during yesterday handlebar munching day. It was the longest stage of the race with 246km and fortunately the relaxed and constant pace setting by katusha literally made the km's fly by. I had forgotten from my first giro the signs to the finish that start from 225km out! Normally they only start at 50km which is the point at which you can be pretty confident if you grit your teeth you can survive for the final 1-2hrs depending on terrain.
On a day like today its best not to see the first 3-4 signs as they go in 25km increments! Seeing 200km to go when you have already been on the bike for 1hr is a little daunting! I remember back to my first giro and by the second week passing the 100km sign feels like you are basically finished, only 2-3hrs to go!! Such is the physical adaptation a grand tour does to your mind and body! Anyway fortunately I seem to have keep those adaptations as I am already thinking that way, infact today I even thought at 150km from the finish I was pretty much home as the climbs to animate the day all came in the final 50km and I was never planning on raising the heart above idle today. Again today team management had me under strict instructions to recover as much as possible and kick this lurgy from my system once and for all. Thanks to the barmy weather for a majority of the day and a nice gentle pace I think I may very well have sweated this thing out of me! For certain a couple more days I will be all good again!
The stage went as expected, little break up the rd and heavy control by katusha to protect the race lead. They rode extremely smart keeping the break in check to keep the jersey but not having to pull it back completely. Therefore in the final 50km others teams that sniffed a stage win charged to the front and effectively did katushas job for them. This meant the katusha boys could sit tight and save energy for when required in the final km's to retain there jersey. And that's exactly what happened as we hit the bottom of the final climb there were the usual fire crackers shooting off the front and katusha en massed on the front with 15km to go and safely retain there race lead. Like yesterday I leasurely sat at the back untill I could no longer do it easily before trundling up the final 12km or so at a nice leasurely pace.
So like everyday in the peleton I seem to learn some small things which makes me realise how complex this sport can be! Firstly yesterday It dawned on me for the first time that my timing for collecting bottles needs to be addressed. Well not only timing but knowledge of the rd where on and where the car is. For example if the car is number 1 in the convey you can go back anytime without drama. If however the cars number 20 and your on a rd as wide as a footpath then you could wait 5min at the back of the bunch for the car to show up. In that time in cycling anything can and does happen up front! So today armed with my newest knowledge of bottle collecting and yesterdays lactate filled refueling of my team mates experience I was very excited to get back to the car right at the right time! Also with bigger races comes greater stress in the peleton and with greater stress getting to the front is all the more difficult. Fortunately during the race!!! We are quite a polite bunch and a person carrying bottles for his soldiers is basically given a clear path through the peleton to search for his men at the same time saying "Service Service". After the chaos of yesterday I actually considered carrying a back full of empty bottles around with me all day so I could move up when I wanted!! Anyways today I used bottle collecting to my advantage and on the all important final bottle drop I picked my moment just perfectly. We were about 15km from the all out full gas final 90min and the rd was a suitable 3 lanes wide. I figured it was the perfect time to collect the bottles, get myself up to my diligent team mates who as always were right up the front, then casually drift back through the bunch knowing the congestion and stress in the peleton at this point in the race would not allow me to drift very far as your flat fiding room to breath!! Let alone drift back through the bunch. I started the climb in a safe stop about mid field and had a nice comfortable sit for the next 1hr before I finally put up the white flag. I was actually pretty chippa with myself as I knew the more convenient timing of my bottle drop had meant I was able to relax, recover, and really enjoy the final part of the race. That's enough talk on bottles, tomorrow I will think of somthing else to write about during stage 5.
245km 6hrs 25min
Average power 218 watts
Average heart rate 124
Nice cruise along the coastline!
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