Today our team manager had one simple demand of us, don't miss the days breakaway! Miss it and your chasing it!! So with that said we all knew it was easier for us to be in everything that goes than have to chase anything back. Like the great team we are we shared the load of entering all the early attacks, first heado, longo, ratto, me, and when dalla jumped next into a group of 15, that was the move that stuck! Movistar gave chase for 20km but never looked liked closing it down and when all there 7 riders (excluding valverde) blew a proverbial popper valve on a sharp rise dalla's group quickly went from 1min to 3min and out to 10min. The winner was going to come from these 15men. When we heard over the radio the kiriyenka had attacked with 50km to go everybody knew the stage was run and won by the team sky bell russian! For him to attack that far out means he knew he had the breaks measure and was confident in holding his pace to the finish. Kiri is one of the best in the world and when he pulls a move like that 10 out 10 times he will take the victory. Certainly a victory that all of the riders in the peleton were happy to see happen today, except perhaps a few in the break that felt they missed a great chance at a grand tour stage win.
I was super impressed with dalla making the move. The pressure is always on when the director says we "HAVE" to have someone in the break. It all well good to like to have someone in there but when there no choice the pressure is on. That's when you see the class and experience of riders like longo, ratto and dalla. They did not miss a beat in those first 20km and we never looked like missing it thanks to them, its these moments that I really appreciate my team mates even more. Of course having a rider in the breakaway always brings Dario to life as he always follow the days escape when Cannondale has one of his men in it. His enthusiastic voice is always certain to brighten up the day back in the main field, he certainly is a character!
My day was again pretty quiet. With dalla up the road and the pressure of us I enjoyed as easier day as possible. I am starting to feel the strength return to my pins following my few days of oxygen starved torture in the pyranees so was a nice feeling not having to suffer to arrive safely inside the time limit. I really want to push hard but also my head won't allow me to take unnecessary risks in the bunch either. Guess its a bit of self preservation. Therefore as soon as the fight for position starts my body just shuts down on me and I quickly float to back where I basically don't have to fight for the position. The only position you don't have to fight for is last wheel in the peleton and for some reason when the stress in the group rises my body simply wants to gravitate to that very spot. Its frustrating but I always listen to my body when it feels good and bad, the season is long and perhaps it will feel a little more like fighting tomorrow or the next day but for now its just trying to recover!
So I didn't contribute in anyway shape or form to the outcome of the race today so consequently had a bit of time to chat with a few dudes in the bunch. With my buddy in the bunch Fabian pulling up stumps yesterday on this years vuelta to concentrate on his preparations for worlds, I needed to find a bloke to have a yarn with. Chris Horner ended up being my buddy today and it was great hearing a few stories of his. I really enjoy chatting with chris because he is such an honest dude. What you see is what you get and he certainly does things his way. He is famous for his love of fast food and consequently his pockets are filled with cakes, mars bars, and cans of coke. He is the best guy to be close to in the feed zone and you can always pick up a delicious treat from him that he does not need or want. He also lives in america pretty much year round. Infact straight after the vuelta he is going home to the USA for 10 days before flying back for the world championships and Lombardia. These are 2 distinctive characteristics of chris that would normally be perceived as not the done thing in cycling!! Well it seems to work out for him pretty well. He simply does what he wants and does what he KNOWS makes him perform best. He doesn't adhere to any notions of how things should be done, there is certainly a lot to be said for that. At the end of the day we should know ourselves better than anyone shouldn't we??
Todays conversation was an interesting one. We were chatting about how different the peleton felt without Fabian in the bunch. It was really strange up at the head of the field. First we had to get use to the fact the familiar green cannondale man Ivan Basso was no longer always perched at the pointy end and now with Cancellara gone it just looked and felt odd up there. We started chatting about the usual chita chata riders start out with like how hard was that first 20km and how tired everyone is! Just the usual stuff that always makes you feel better to know your not the only one suffering in the group!! We then got onto to talking about how back in the late 1990's he never even saw this part of the field. He said he was full gas to not be out the back racing the official car let alone riding comfortably in the first 20 positions of the bunch. Infact he said the pace was often that extremely fast that he was absolutely full gas just making It to the feed zone in time before all the massures had packed up and headed to the finish. The main field had long since past and there feed bags dispatched while chris and many others were still on there way there. He said there would be fights in teams on who got to pull out of the race early as there was only limited seats in the car to take them back to the hotel! Such was the era and for guys like chris it was just a case of being battered from pillar to post on a daily basis.
The best part about his story as he does not regret or resent having to race through these times for one second. He said that sure he suffered and at times all seemed hopeless but he obviously persevered. Now north of 40 years old we are seeing where his true ability and potential has him on the world stage of cycling. He truly has an interesting story. He said now people are questioning him on his perceived sudden rise to the top of the sport. Maby people should look a little more closely at what's gone on over the past few years and the type of riders at the head of the biggest races. They are the guys with pure class, talent and great work ethic and the best part both young an old. The rising phenomenon's like peter sagan and now the old dogs with plenty of tricks like chris horner. It really was great for me to have this little impromptu chat with chris as we scaled the first cat 3 climb of the day. I certainly was pleased to here he lit up the race on the final climb and has set up an absolutely mouth watering duel with another of the pure class Vincenso Nibali in the final stages of this years Vuelta.
The other thing I quickly realised is that chris is not even contemplating hanging up the bike anytime soon. Infact he sees it as finally he has his chance to show his true class and at the moment still appears to be improving. Could we see chris horner challenging for a grand tour in another 8 years time when he reaches 50?? I would not be against it. What an amazing guy and its will be exciting to see what he achieves before that day comes when he finally calls time on what will most certainly be one of the most colourful and long standing professional careers of any rider ever to enter the peleton.
3 more stages to go and more importantly perhaps just 2 until we reach madrid for the final day. 2 more chances for us cannondale boys to show off our bright green jerseys and shorts and see what else we can achieve from what's been a race that has quite literally had it all for the cannondale squad. I am finally feeling like I am not digging a whole and feeling a little better each morning so going to do what I do everynight, read a few pages of sean kelly's book and have a good sleep.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device