Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stage 4 poland

We are certainly some decent miles into the legs here in the tour of poland. Today we knocked out another 250km when the tranfer to km 0 was added to the 236km race. Fortunately we had a 44kmph average which as fabian cancellara pointed out to me today it makes a massive difference to the race time over the longer distance than 40kmph, indeed it saved us about 45min of saddle time so he had a very good point. Not only that but at such a high average speed I am getting some great race rhythm into the pins.

As far as the race went we had a similar plan to yesterday, protect ivans gc position and give ratto the best chance for the predicted sprint finish. We did all this and as planned moving the final 10km we were on the front, well atleast I was which was nice to get some fresh air in the face and sweep up the days early break away. Unfortunately for us and every other team apart from BMC, Taylor phinny put in an impressive attack with 6km to go and held onto to win solo. I had a feeling such an attack would be a chance today as the peleton seems pretty tired from the 23hrs of hard racing in the 1st 4 days of the tour of poland. Anyways phinny laid his you know whatters on the line and stole the show so hats of to him. Ratto improved big time on his showing from yesterday to finish 5th in the sprint for 2nd which was won by steele van hoff. He great mate and ex geneysis team mate nathan hass did a mass of work on the front all day to ensure a bunch sprint and should a super phinny not have been present then steele could very well have chalked up his first world tour win. Anyways 2nd it was and again showing that andrew christie johnston's huon genysis team based in little old tassie is a breeding ground of world tour talent, will be interesting to see who next makes the step up behind Nathan Earl next year.

Our cannondale boys while not setting the results sheet alight are laying some important foundations as far as team work goes for the Vuelta. Basso loves to know all is under control just like I do and that means spending a lot of time up the front so that's what we have been doing. Also in the final km's my work on the front has been as much about giving us the right to stay up front and out of trouble as it has been to set up the sprints for ratto. All in all we need these 2 lead up races to get the group working perfectly together and ensure everyone knows there role and we can see who is good at what. No point getting a rider that feels more comfortable pulling on the flat pulling on the climb and vice versa! So these long days in poland on varying terrain have given us some great feed back to ensure the system works as closely to clockwork as it can at the big objective for the final part of the year, the VUELTA!

One exciting little game I have been playing this race is trying to influence nature breaks within the bunch. In the past I have had the knack of choosing a moment when I should not stop and suffering like there's no tomorrow to get back to the peleton. Anyways doing my quest to save energy in the giro I seemed to improve in this area so its been an interesting test to see if I remembered this skill and had really learnt anything! It turns out I have and everytime I have stopped this race for a nature break so to has what appears to be half the field either everyone has the some nature stop body clock as me or I am finally choosing the right moment to pull over! This has a few advantages, firstly with so many stopped its pretty normal that the pace at the front slows considerably, secondly there are plenty of people to ride back to the peleton with, and thirdly it gives you a chance to grab some bottles for all your team mates from the team car on your way back through the convoy. All in all, all these things as up to stopping for a nature break being a relieving and relaxing exercise and good way to pass some mindless hrs in long stages like we have had here in poland!

My legs are certainly in the hurt box, its the most fatigue I have felt for a very long time but on reflection its no surprise. I barely could pull the skin off a rice custard in the giro and have not done any significant work since so you have to expect a little pain so I can make some serious gains! Fortunately I don't seem to have lost my endurance and feel more comfortable the harder and longer the stages are so I just need to stick to the plan and let these races bring me back up to speed. I am already feeling better jumping out of corners and I know when you get that feeling like you can accelerate out of slow corners I know my top condition is not far away so I am pleased with that. Now we have a couple attrition days which are certain to really test the fatigue levels of the whole bunch so I am looking forward to seeing how the body reacts to that!

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