Its been 9 weeks since I pushed the pedals in anger so was great to get back on the race track for stage 1 of tour of poland today. Its a strange feeling not having raced for so long, I bit like coming back from the summer holidays at school! You get to catch up with your peers and any goss you have missed being away from the peleton, realise some things change a little but most things stay the same.
So as the race got underway I was instantly in the hurt box. Not only have I not raced but I have also not done any race simulation behind the car or motor bike so 60kmph on the flat is quite the lung opener. After a nervous nudges into rider which occur when you have not been in the bunch for so long, I slowly found my feet again and fortunately once the climbs started I finally was able to relax and enjoy my job again.
The day was pretty straight forward with a small break going and the collective efforts of teams not represented slowing wound the escapees back in at the start of the final climb. Our cannondale boys were vigilant all day and always up the front so were ready and waiting for the moment to spark into action and contribute to the days stage. This moment came about 15km from the start of the final climb with ratto and paterski stringing out the group with a fearsome tempo on the false flat drag up to the start of the climb. By the time the climb started the race was back together and at this point christiano took over to keep the pedal to the metal on the lower slopes.
The next part of the plan was a master stroke by our team captain Ivan basso as our columbian pocket rocket, sami, let loose and instantly opened a good gap. Eventually others responded and I got a free ride accross to him and once he was caught I did my first acceleration on the front of the group. I dug pretty deep and when I heard nibali was dropping I dug a little deeper and ensured a good selection was made. From there a few attacks went over me and a stale mate occurred with no one wanting to take up the pace and this was the moment basso sent me to the front again to keep everything tight for the final km. This time I just drummed out a nice rhythm, well as comfortable as 190 heart rate can be!! The heart has not pumped that hard for a while!! And waited for the next attacks to come which I knew would signal the end of my day on the front and it would be up to our captain, mr basso himself to fly the flag to the finish. When this came a couple of km before the top of the climb I instantly took a deep breath and figured I would just role in behind one of the chase groups. Unfortunately for me the group was a lot smaller than I expected and I was left to pedal out the final few km all by my lonesome but happy and content in the knowledge I had contributed to the days racing. Its was a little more satisfying considering the long period away from any intensity but also give me a lot more optimism as I build up for the vuelta espania, its nice to have a decent base to build from.
In the end basso would be 5th which is far and away the best result for him this year at this level and if I am confident of where I can get to for the vuelta then I think the book makers might be shortening the cannondale pro cycling team captains odds as he is coming up an absolute treat!
Great day for the boys in green, great to be back racing and working so well as a team, looking forward to the week ahead at the tour of poland.
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