After yesterday’s brutal day, my morale was actually surprisingly high. I had proved something to myself, and I had toughed out the two most difficult stages in this first week of La Vuelta
This morning, my morale stayed high as the race profile seemed to suggest that it wasn’t too hard until the final climb at 30km to go…where there would be yet another chance to ride in ‘easy’ with my grupetto brothers.
The goal for the day was to put someone in the breakaway. I was told to take it easy…as easy as one can take a grand tour stage.
And so, 10km into the race, I attacked…naturally! I saw an opportunity and I went for it. Must just be how I am wired or something. I found myself in a group of 4 containing a good friend of mine, Leigh Howard of HTC. We desperately tried to get away, and made some nice headway, reaching a gap of about 50 seconds at one point. Surely, I thought, they are going to let us go.
The rest of my thoughts ranged from ‘Taylor, you were supposed to take it easy what the hell are you doing’ to ‘F**k yeah! You’re going to be in a breakaway in the Vuelta! Go go go!’
And then 10km later Rik came on the radio.
‘Andalucia and Cofidis are riding hard at the front to bring you back.’
Both teams had missed the break and were now bringing us back so that they could then launch one of their riders.
When I heard this I knew our chances were over, but at the time, the four of us had began climbing a 2.5km climb-that-isn’t-a-climb. Shit, you need to keep the speed up otherwise you are gonna get caught and go straight out the back of the peloton! Already gassed from trying to get AWAY from the pack, I was now preparing to fight in order just to maintain contact.
Some days, pretty much every day here at the Vuelta, I really wish I didn’t weigh 82 kg. Thanks for the big bones and dense muscles Dad…
I dug deep, and put my head down as the group surged by, riders flying off the front. I was in pain but I had to hold on.
Hold on I did, just barely. With the help of a couple big pushes from Manuel Quiziato and Karsten Kroon, I survived and promptly spent the next 50km at the back just hanging on for dear life. The stage was supposed to be ‘flat’ but was most definitely not.
Guess I should know that by now. Excuse my naivety!
The break finally got established with Martin Kohler and 3 other guys. Cruise control set in and the rest of the race passed by, slowly, with that same dull pain constantly reminding me that what I am doing is not comfortable.
As we neared the final climb, the pace quickened and I did my part to get bottles and make sure Greg and Santambrogio were safe in the front. As we hit the base of the climb I pulled the plug and labored up it with most of my mates from yesterday.
When we rolled into the finish I made sure that I wasn’t the first one of the group across the line. I learned my lesson yesterday!
Another day in the books, plagued a little bit by a sore knee. Icing it now and hoping all will be ok!