Today had the potential to go only 2 ways, full gas or nice and tranquil. Stage 13 looked ideal for a breakaway to take the spoils and the only question was how long it would take to form and which riders were inside it! Sure enough and really as it should, the full gas scenario panned out! Everybody wanted to be in the break and that meant there was always somebody not in it that wanted to be in it, consequently there was always someone on the front going hell for leather and kept the peleton in single file for the first 65km!
The break finally formed and had 15+ riders in it. Sure enough due to the fact there was only about 60 riders left in the peleton when it formed it was bound to have some GC men inside it. A break like this only contains strong riders as not only has it formed after many have been dropped but also once making that cut you have to have the engine, and even more importantly the courage to dig even deeper and charge off the front. You always have the utmost respect for the riders that escape on days like today as basically all bar a few in the peleton wanted to be in it!
While none really threatened Vincenso Nibali's red jersey, there were a couple that threatened Ivan's position so we were immediately placed on standby to work if necessary. So with a dangerous break up the road the pace never really relented and before we knew it we were at the base of the days potentially decisive climb which came 50km from the finish. The climb was 4km and averaged 10% which on paper does seem so daunting. Unfortunately there's 10% and then there's a spanish 10% average climb. While in the rest of the world this type of climb can be constant and manageable, a spanish version is anything but! The spanish version prefers to have ramps of 20% followed by a little bit of flat, even down a little, the boof another few hundred meters at 20%. With my broken rib and getting out of the seat being the most painful consequence of it you can imagine how much I enjoyed this 4km of suffering!! I simply had to take it steady and stay as close to the front as possible, suck it up, stay in the seat as much as possible and save my energy to re enter in the front group on the decent of flat section before the finish. As it turned out I was not to far of the back over the main main field over the top of the climb and was back with Ivan sooner than I expected to be. Once there it was time to swing into action!
Not surprisingly the breakaway had splintered on the climb in much the same way the peleton had. The front of group containing a couple of GC contenders was now 3min up the road with those riders threatening to pass ivan on GC if the gap continued to grow. Ivan gave me the nod and I was finally where I loved being, on the front of the peleton! Now it was important not panic and blow myself to bits. The most important thing was to send a message the strong riders up the road that they were not going to be able to ride peacefully off into the sunset. So first I simply stabilised the gap at 3min so I could sense how hard they were riding. Realised pretty quick that they were going pretty hard as my SRM was spending a lot of time north of 500watts for 5km or so!! Fortunately FDJ were in the same bout and sent a few riders up to help me. This worked out nicely as now I could get some recovery and turn up the ratchet when I did some pulls. Soon the gap was down to 2min 30sec and when I finished another nice controlled but pretty much all out pull it was back to 2min. Now I knew there spirits were broken as far as taking time out of the bunch and Ivan told me to take a breather. From here fdj could look after thing for the final 15km. Unfortunately not long after that 1 by 1 the boys in blue started to fade and the pace went out of the peleton. I immediately got the nod from Ivan to not chase hard again but merely keep the pace steady just to be certain our hard work was not wasted. Its always best to shut this stuff down immediately was than was waiting simply means you have to ride even harder! Best to pull for longer at a more tranquil tempo than have to go all out and blow yourself to bits in a few km's.
At 10km to go or so quickstep sensed they could pull it back for a sprint and tony martin pulled past me at a pace that there was no way I could follow. I tried briefly but I was doing over 600 watts nad not only that we had gapped the field. So I said bugger this tone your on your own and waited for the bunch which he quickly realised was also the better option. So now I was officially of duty. Ivan had longo and paterski to pilot him into the final kms safely and I dropped back right out of the way to last wheel in the group.
So I was rolling along at the back when Fabian pulled up beside me. He said he was impressed with my persistence with the broken rib and suggested that the restricted breathing is a bit like altitude training!! Yeah I said great I get to do another 8 days feeling like I am breathing through a straw!! He gee these speed humps must hurt a bit?? I simply said I hold my breath and for those moments when I hit them I try and think about anything other than what I am currently doing, usually what I would like to eat for dinner is the first thing that comes to mind! Anyways it made my day to get a compliment like that from Fabian. He is a huge role model for me and to be honest the fact he even speaks to me has been one of the most enjoyable parts of the 2nd half of this season for me. I am absolutely in awe of guys like him and its awesome to be getting the chance to not only race along side him but also be able to have a good old fashioned chin wag from time to time. I want to make it clear that I if I am going to continue in the race I will do anything I can to contribute to the team. The moment I start putting my pain at the forefront of things will be the moment I am no use to anyone so I don't want be in that space, if you line up and pin the number on you race and that's that!
Ivan showed his diligence once more and finished at the head of the main field. Another day and again staying inside the GC fight so that was one objective we could once again tick off. Tomorrow marks the first stage in the high mountains so looking forward to getting stucking into that. With a bit of luck today will taken the sting out of a few legs and positioning my become a little more relaxed but in reality its going to be a ver very hard day!! Time to get some sleep and get ready for it.
170km in 4hrs 5min
Average power 283 watts
Average heart rate 147
Kcal burnt 4200
Max power 1040watts
Max heart rate 182 (my ribs won't let my lungs and heart push any harder than this point! Its a bit like having a rev limiter on!! Hopefully its enough to keep me in the action)
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