Only one thing to say about today, sore legs!! Stage 3 of tour of slovenia was the queens stage and it certainly lived up to its billing as the day to decide the race. With king Kong koren and Caruso the green machine had two genuine hopes for final GC podium and as a team we went all in to set them up for a crack at the title. Everybody had a role to play and most importantly it's important as a team to work as one and have a go, sometimes it works, sometimes it's doesn't, but you learn something every time and at the end of the stage everybody can have a smile on there dial as they have the satisfaction of doing what was asked of them. In the koren would consolidate 4th on GC which for a guy who is not a pure climber by any stretch of the imagination, Infact I think he is giving away 15kg to the 3 rock spiders in front of him it was a jolly awesome performance so we are all pleased for him. Most importantly he consolidated his lead in the leading slovenian category! Now for how it all unfolded.
It was an absolute doozy of course today. There was not a single section of flat road and I can't remember a straight section either! Add to that the fact that often the roads were no more than a car width and a bit wide and I am pretty sure you can paint a good picture that it was a day to stay up front and out of trouble! A nice controllable break skipped away pretty early on to everyone's relief and we waited for which team would make the first move. On paper the stage looked perfectly suited to the lampre phenomenon diago illusi and not surprisingly once the escapees were given some breathing room they immediately put the there troops on the front. We had to decided to go all in for the stage and naturally sent up 2 of our own soldiers in Snr sagan and the austrian oxe krizek and the pace was on!! I can't remember ever being comfortable in the bunch all day, it was just about that comfort zone but fortunately just below unpleasant! Basically provided you were up the front and had a bit of an idea what was happening you could always be content knowing those behind were suffering more than you! The stage was characterized by 3 climbs. The first which was 9km in length came after 115, the second 6km came after 155km and the final 20km drag up to the line came at 172km. Our plan was for Snr sagan and krizek to ride to the first climb where I would tale over. I would keep riding on the run into the 2nd climb where junior mohoric would take over and then koren and Caruso would be left with the smooth pedaling vilella to make a difference on the final climb idealy from a tired small peleton! Krizek and Juraj rode like 10men a kept the break at a manageable 5minutes and due to the extreme velocity it felt like a blink of an eye and we were at the base of the 1st major climb of the day and my turn to take up the baton!
As we swung right onto the climb I immediately took the reins. The plan was not to go too hard as we still had 70km to race but simply put a bit of fatigue in the legs of the guys in the bunch. On way to many occasion lately on the climbs I have been the ball so was relishing the opportunity to be the bat again and enjoying the fact that my pins are actually able to deliver a little bit of power. I needed to keep the rev limiter on as I knew I had a 30km valley to ride on the front after the climb so settled into a nice rhythm. The climb was 9km but with around 2km to go there was a bit of a downhill before the kick up to the line. The climb took around 22min and for that I averaged 430 watts. For the section before the decent however was 18minutes at 450 watts so again was nice to see some confirmation of what I felt. For the first 10min before I backed off a little I averaged 465 watts so again was nice to see an improvement from yesterday, it's always a nice feeling on your first race back on the comeback trial to be feeling better day by day. The boys were all lined up behind me and Caruso was excellent at keeping me enthused, was like having a good cozwain in a rowing boat! Anyways over the climb and onto the decent so from the privileged first position I let junior mohoric put his depending skills to the test while I drifted back to the car to get water for the boys and have a quick chat with our director biagio to make sure all was on track. I got the bottles, had the chin wag and deployed them back to the boys and took up my spot on the front again for the run into the 2nd last climb where my role came to an end. Sure enough as we hit the lower slopes of the climb junior mohoric was chomping at the bit to do his job and the green machine train stormed past me! Completely cooked I now only had 25km's of climbing to get to the finish, ah the perks of being a dish pig!
So junior took up the baton and instantly the field was in single file. He drummed out his tempo up and over the 2nd last climb and into the base of the final one. Fortunately his acceleration made the bunch as long as it's to possible to make with 50guys in it and I was able to stay near the back over the climb and get a bit of a free ride down the other side. When junior swung off and the group whittled down we had a good numeric advantage. All was going to plan and koren and Caruso now had vilella to help them finish the job. In the end the speed in the final km or so of the a few of the pure climbers was a little on the fast side for our boys but they still did a great job keeping kristian in 4th and still holding out some remote hope for a podium spot. Will have to be aggressive tomorrow if he wants to move up but being the fine athlete he is I wouldn't rule anything out so I am looking forward yet again to hearing what our director biagio conte has install for us tomorrow.
I must admit I have been very excited each night when I go to bed here in slovenia with the prospect of what lies ahead tomorrow. I guess that sensation of feeling stronger and more comfortable with the race rhythm every day is really nice and I am ancious to see how much that improves from day to day. Although today didn't land the team a victory or a podium spot it was certainly one of the more enjoyable and satisfying days I have had with the green machine from the point of view of setting a plan and sticking to it and going all in for the result. Like I have said before the outcome is not important, we have our fair share of wins! What's most important to the team and also the part I enjoy the most is how we devise a plan and execute it, the journey of working together as a team. Tomorrow's a new day so another opportunity to give it a go!!
Time for some sleep