Friday, August 30, 2013

Calm before a massive storm! Stage 7 vuelta

It was a day of 2 very distinct parts!! The initial 170km was gentlemans ride toward seville while the final 35km circuit around the city was absolutely full blast! Our objective today remained pretty similar, look after Ivan and give our fast men an opportunity to open up there jets in the sprint. Today Ratto decided to hand the reins over to our canadian cannonball Bouvin which made the boys pretty excited to see what he could do in the expected sprint finish.

From the gun everything went as planned and a small group of 3 riders skipped away. The bunch was happy to let them go and was interesting that these 3 men where given more breathing space the Motorbike Martin just 24hrs earlier, another excellent example of the respect with would champion against the clock commands!!

We did our usual thing and set up camp on the front. The chances of anything crazy happening were slim but as its our system its just what we do regardless of the circumstances. As I have said before you never know if the bunch is all of sudden going to spring to life so best to be prepared. So with this said all was cery tranquillo today and gave us a chance to even have a little social chat with some of our peers as we rolled toward seville.

Fabian Cancellara saddled up alongside me to ask if I was from the same region as former aussie professional cyclist and hardman scott sunderland? He said we had the same accent and said when he here's my voice he thinks its scott. Its funny because fabian is the second person to suggest this in the past few months. I explained we were not from the same region and that I was tasmanian and his response was pretty normal, "I knew there was somthing different about, you tasmanians aint like the rest of the aussies". He is pretty spot on there, for some reason, ritchie, gossy, wez, will, and myself seem to be a little different to the other guys. Anyways we ended up discussing where he lived in swiss which led to us talking about my time in luzern floating down the rapids with the rowing team. He thought was pretty funny and also interested we had used that area as a training area and was also quite interested in my rowing career and path to racing alongside him in the 2013 vuelta. We also relived my first world championship on the bike in 2007 in stuttgart where I took part in the TT. He was the race while I was 31st over 3 minutes behind. Still he was pretty intrigued by the fact I was even there so we chatted a bit about my experience that day.

At this particular worlds I started 10th from the back so In all honesty I would not have been surprized if Fabian had of closed the 10minutes and caught me, he had a chuckle at that and I think quickly realized I had a lot of respect for him. I actually start 1min ahead of David Millar so was crapping my dacks about that, not to mention the long list of my role models behind him, zerbriski, bodrogi, wiggins, karpets just to name a few. Anyways I set off and to my surprize still after 20km miller had not passed me. Then that sinking feeling that you are getting closer to the ground, my front wheel was going flat. Just as I pulled over miller was on me so I had to wait for him and his car to pass before getting going again. I said to fabian I decided bugger this and went hell for leather to catch back up to millar, it was my first world championships on the bike and for all knew I could have been my last as at the time I was still considering returning to rowing for the 2008 olympics. So I caught back up to dave and zipped past. For the next 20+km we traded places now in a match race. He must have been thinking who is this little aussie pest I have never heard off!! Well atleast after that 20km he knew who I was. Fabian found all this pretty funny and when I told him I was watching millars SRM box under his seat and upon seeing the number as I passed thought man I can do that!! I almost felt like I belonged there!! I also relived the moment at the top of the course, it was 5km up then turn over a big overpass and back down. Just as I was finishing this section Fabian was entering it and I thought to myself how cool is this!! Helicopters and cars everywhere, the top 9 time trialists in the world, oh and me also!! and I am locked in grudge match with david millar! Yeah that was a special day and nice to share with fabian, we certainly have a good little chat whenever we cross paths in the bunch.

So back to today and it was nice an cruisey for 170km then BOOM!! With 35km we entered a city circuit, the road was all of a sudden 1/3rd of the size we had been on all day and it was full gas!! I immediately slipped into my bodyguard role on Ivan's wheel while Dalla, Longo and Paterski guided Ivan to the front of the bunch. These boys did a huge job today taking the wind for Ivan until the final 10km when they had used all there cookies. At this point Ivan was able to position himself while I stayed behind to ensure he did not have any dramas. On a day like today, dalla, longo and paterski litterally had to do 30min all out time trial to fight for this position as every rider in the peleton is fighting them for a front position. While they are litterally full gas Ivan and I are able to casually follow there wheels and save all our bullets for when there's are used up and we have to fend for ourselves. That's another example of where complete sacrifice from your team mates is crucial, on a day like today meant to be a bunch sprint and the pace is that ferocious that half the field is spat out the back!! Big pat on the back to dalla, longo and paterski.

During this time our canadian cannonball Boivin was benefiting from equally sacrificial work by heado. Heado is a very crafty rider and knows how to position his man and had bouvin absolutely perfectly position heading into the final 10km. Infact he never let him further back than 10 wheels and as we went under the 5km kite Bouvin was perfectly poised in about 7th wheel. Heado had done all he could and the peleton, or what was left of it atleast was dead on there feet! I got instantly excited when I saw the cannonball looking so smooth and got on the radio to give him a little encouragement and remind him everybody is suffering.

Inside 3km to go and I was on Ivan wheel. We were close enough to front that all was tickedy boo and I was bouncing out of my skin in anxious anticipation of what the cannonball could do when he opened up those monster calf muscles of his in the sprint. He was still sitting so pretty!! Then!!!!! He put the reverse lights on and before I even had a chance to ask him what was wrong he was gone from the back of the bunch with only 1.5km to go. He had touched a rider and lost a spoke or 3 and his wheel was destroyed! Bugger!! He was right there and in my humble opion certain to have delivered a huge result today. Anyways again its his first grand tour and first week of it at that. If he is already putting himself in such good positions it won't be long at all untill he breaks through with a massive result.

Ivan finished safe and sound in the main field and saved as much energy as possible for tomorrow when we hit the high mountains!! Best go and see our brilliant chef Alex and top up the tank with some perfect italian pasta!! Delicious!

CJW  
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