After the first stage, right after dinner Thomas and Colin asked me if I would drive the time trial course with them so they could have one last good look at it before the showdown in the morning. I had just gotten the results from the first stage and saw that we lost one guy to the time cut rule. The rule is simply, you need to finish within ten percent of the winner’s time to be able to continue. The same is true in the pro tour, the Tour de France, etc but most people never hear anything about it. The problem is that if you get dropped and you are by yourself, you risk not making the cut. These stages are short by comparison to the pro tour so the time you need to finish in just isn’t that much off the winner plus the field goes much faster than any one individual can go.
The only good thing about missing the time cut is your race is over and you can’t do the time trial. Jake’s not doing the time trial, since it’s based on reverse general classification order, the number one rider goes last, the last on GC goes first, meant that I didn’t need to be at the race course as early as we would have. That gave us additional time in the morning to prepare and let the guys sleep in; a little.
The course is up and down but it seems more down than up. Usually there is little wind early in the morning and that was the case for the early starters. We had Brendan and Curtis without aero parts since they were in limited supply. By the time they started the wind, mostly head winds, picked up considerably. This was a point to point time trial so there would be no balance like with an out and back time trial, if you have a head wind, you also have a tail wind, like you see in most time trials here in the states.
I was checking the times of the early starters which are usually slower since early starters were the later finishers of the first stage, usually because they were weaker. The times were slower than the year before and a lot off the course record set by our own Lawson Craddock two years before. Brendan and Curtis posted almost identical times a bit off the fastest posted time so far. I had instructed them to go hard bit not too hard. We would need them in the afternoon if Thomas or Colin had a good time trial and I needed them fresh. The time cut rule applies here too but it’s five percent, not the ten which is normal for road races so they still needed to be quick.
Thomas and Colin were only separated by a couple of minutes so I chose to follow Thomas in the car while Franky followed Colin in the camper van. That was a sight you usually don’t see in UCI races but you do what you have to do to support our riders. Thomas looked good but not great. Because of the strong head wind I couldn’t tell if he was fast relative to today’s competition. His time trial was uneventful in that we had no problems at all. He cut corners where he should have, was out of the saddle where he should have been and we finished.
When I got to him he said he still felt blocked up, felt terrible. His time was OK but not one of the fastest. All I could hope for was some magic from Colin. Colin came in a little faster than Thomas but still not fast enough to be a contender on the stage. I stayed for the final riders so I would have a sense of what we needed to do in the afternoon and I sent the team back to our host hotel for lunch and the prep for the afternoon stage.
In the end, the New Zealander finished second on the time trial, less than one second off the fastest time set by an early starter so he would still be the afternoon yellow jersey. We finished twenty-first at thirty-six seconds and thirty-first at at fifty-five seconds. All was not lost. Colin was only forty-two seconds off the lead and Thomas a little more back. I knew that it was unlikely that Thomas was going to be better by the end of the day. That would be something we had to figure out later. Colin, on the other hand, told me he was feeling great. He was going to be our trump card, our one chance. After all our mediocre results, we were still in it with a chance. We were just far enough back that we would not be noticed and the front end of the field was just congested enough that there should be some pressure on the leader and his team. It was time to play some cards and go all in, what did we have to lose?
Thanks for reading,