Was quite to race of attrition here in poland for the final road stage of the 2013 tour. 5 laps of a 40km circuit with 3 x 5km climbs in each lap. In total 4000m of climbing elevation would be completed by days end so not surprising it was quite simply one of those days where the field just got smaller from behind!
Our objectives today were simple, keep ivan as high on GC as possible and by the end of the day he had climbed 2 places to be in 9th spot and finally inside the prestigious top 10. Was a pretty crazy day to match the crazy course with 30 riders going clear in the early breakaway. We had ratto inside to represent the team while the rest of us were instructed to stay with ivan to ensure he was safe and sound in the bunch. Slowly but shawly the teams of saxo and the basque's from spain started to wind in the break. When sky injected some horsepower into the chase the gap really started tumbling forcing those remaining up front to push a bit harder.
Ratto was on fire today and by the time he succumbed to the increase of tempo of the climbers in the front group only 6 riders remained up the rd. At this point when he was dropped he showed his true class. As now it was still a 1'30" gap to the front and 4 riders that were a danger to Ivan on GC we took up the pace making. Well infact Ratto picked up the batten straight away and absolutely rode himself into the groud on a fast but pedalable decent. To put it in perspective I was on his wheel getting an excellent draft and still doing 450 watts so was not surprized when he told me at dinner he was all out pushing over 500watts down the decent. His efforts paid huge dividends and with 18km to go the gab was down to 1min as we hit the second last climb. For me Ratto was certainly best on ground for the cannondale boys today! This was my cue to take over at the front but I knew I had to be carefull!
I was suffering so I know ivan would be suffering aswell so while you may think its a great idea to show how strong you are for 5' and pull like a madman on a climb you have to appreciate that once your job is done your captain had to finish the job. So for the first 4km of the climb before we hit the final 1km 15% average ramp to summit at 10km to go I found a pace that could gradually chip away at the lead of the 6 riders up the rd and also ensure ivan was feeling as good as possible for the final 5km climb he would have to do all alone. Its fortunately worked out perfectly and when we hit the wall at 1km from the top of the climb the attacks started and now ivan had to follow, my job was done. At this point the gap was down to 20 seconds and by the top of the climb the 15 riders left in the peleton had joined the 6 up front and Ivan was now in a perfect position to improve his GC standing. All day as a team we were never further back than 10-15 wheels and I never looked behind once. I knew it was hard but also knew if I looked back and the whole group was there then I would think I am suffering too much and everyone else is doing It easy. When I finished my pull I figured the group would be small but I did not expect it be less than 20 riders, I was a bit annoyed actually because it meant I had to ride the final 10km all on pat ma lone with nobody to winge and wine to about how hard the day was!
Anyways all worked out for the best in the end and ivan did a great job on the final climb. With only a TT to come tomorrow, it will be nice to round a great week of team work and preparation as we head to the vuelta. From a personal perspective its been great to atleast contribute in some capacity each day, always nice getting some extra tanning time on the front of the bunch!
That rounds out my blogging as a 29 year old, tomorrow expect a more mature tone to my contributions as I will be turning 30!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device