I’m in Sardegna, Italy, a beautiful place. But with so much suffering on the agenda, I’ll have to come back for vacation.
Giro di Sardegna: 5 stages, 551 miles
Stage 1: 140 km
Steep climbs all day were short enough to be invisible on the profile. Everyone predicted a sprint stage. At least the rainy forecast was also wrong for most of the day. Two riders broke away early. After 100 km our road captains put me on the front to pull back the break.
For a while it was my roommate, Chris Butler (Team BMC), and fellow Lucca inhabiting American, Ted King (Team Liquigas), swapping pulls. Each steep hill stung the legs and the intensity snowballed as we approached a critical climb with 5 km to go. I took my last pull with 7 km to go, catching the break away, and dropping out of the lead group of 50 on the climb.
Once again, I earned the satisfaction of hearing “good job” from my teammates. For now, that’s my only goal. With someone to work for, and a job to do, I feel like I’m on the accelerated learning program.
Stage 2: 197 km +10 km neutral start
Ted and Chris towed the peloton along behind the break. I was off duty today. Ted’s teammate is leading the race overall, and Chris’s is second so it’s their responsibility to control the race. Team RadioShack conglomerated in the peloton as we tapped out a steady tempo up and down all day.
I gathered my nerves to dive through switchbacks at 40 mph. Riders took more risks on the final descent into the 15 km mountaintop finish. “I’m being pretty wimpy,” I thought as guys cut in on me, but at the bottom I saw 50 riders chasing back to the group.
Then we hit the climb after almost 200 km (124 mi). With 5 km to go the group was down to 50 and I couldn’t stay with them any longer. My teammate, Ben Hermans, was 5th on the stage from a group of 10.
Stage 3: 180 km
“Please go. Please go. Please go,” I prayed for the breakaway to establish. Guys attacked the uphill start jerking the field and strangling my tired legs. Finally a group of three finally went clear, and we settled into a fast tempo for the rest of the day. Up and over a 1000 meter vertical climb, literally a snowcapped mountain, and down to the finishing climb.
Fighting to keep Ben Hermans in striking position for the final ten km climb, our team congregated at the pointy end of the pack. Faster than I’ve ever gone uphill I focused intensely on the wheel in front of me, until it began to flail. I passed it. Only 30 riders remained. Hermans looked smooth. I cracked 2 km from the finish, and rolled in with G4 and Phillip.
After the start, it was encouraging to be participating in the finish.
More to come…