Stage 13 and Associated Crit Madness
First: I'm racing this thing every day to the end. Today was supposed to be an off day, but I got myself in a masochistic daze and am pre-reg'd friday-sunday. Really though, it isn't hard anymore. Particularly when you're in the GC mix. You need to watch the riders around you, and they're likely doing the same thing, and in the same state of semi-delierium watching lap cards slowly count down 'till the recovery period before the next race begins. The people who don't fall into the aforementioned group are either (a) Colombian or (b) just arrived at superweek and don't care if a failed attack would sap their legs in the sprint. So you see...it isn't bad at all. At least that's what I'm trying to convince myself of...
Stage 13-Whitnal Park Road Race 100k
Again...not a road race. It was definitely Whitnal Park, and the SRM read 90k by the time we were through. Swell. 27 laps around a 3.5k circuit. Obstacles here included, in order, the sun in your face on the first little rise, followed by a pothole-orgy of sorts cast in dark shadows about a mile from the finish, and to my delight, a 180 turn followed by a little hill 500 meters from the line to a downhill finish.
We start. Same scenesters. Final day for double points. Kelly Benefits was conspicuously absent. I somehow staged first row. Just like that. We were off, and after a really smooth clip-in to forward thrust sequence, nearly plowed into the yellow jersey who didn't clip in so smoothly at the start. We laughed. Millionth time this has happened this tour...everyone's a bit less edgy. This was the first time in the last 4-5 days in which I didn't immediately concede that the money streak would finally end on this day. The legs were spry. I kept them in check, however. The 27 laps passed quickly. I nailed that climb seated and with minimal wattage (~500) each time. Power meter.....a real daisy for energy conservation junkies. A serious move got up the road. About 10 guys. Merde. Bahati was the last to get up there, and there was at least 1 Colombian. All bad. I put in a couple pulls up front, but eventually, all chase efforts were dropped, and it felt like it was done. But....it came back. The break exploded itself, and the pack grew more motivated as the gap came down. 4 laps to go. Group is all together. Legs are good. Slowly moved up, and kept it near the jersey for the final few laps. He's a good draft, and you know he's obligated to be at the finish mix, so it works out well. 2 to go, a Colombian gets a gap, solo. Olympic pursuiter nearing top form off the front solo for a 3k effort....righhhhhhhhhhht. Game over. But 2nd place is a solid position to sprint for. Somehow, no one crashed...got to that final U turn in fine shape, and sliced through without the brakes. Tip. Crested the hill...let the legs loose at this point, and found a nice line on the outside to pass some fools and finish up 13th. It works.