Weight of a Nation. Today was the first mountain stage of the race, and the second chance for the big hitters to test each others’ legs and see who was looking dangerous and who not. I just love the mountaintop stages in these races!
Sitting in the bus heading up the hill, you get such a good look at what the boys are going to need to deal with, see all of the people in various states of excitement, and just build yourself up into a crescendo of anticipation for what is about to come.
I’m not sure if it’s a theme I’ve just missed at previous Grand Tours I’ve been on (I’ve now worked at five of them), or it is distinctive to this area we are in (right on the Swiss border near Lake Geneva), but there were an awful lot of people dressed as cows today. There are also thousands of bike fans in various states of undress from normal riding kit, to bib shorts, to bike shorts, to shorts rolled up, to swimming costumes.
It’s a great laugh to people watch all the way up the hill, and it also builds the anticipation as we await the show to go down. And as ever, it was a good show today, with Garmin-Transitions once again right in the mix.
Our man Ryder “weight of a nation” Hesjedal started the day in fourth place, and we were all hoping he’d be able to maintain that position come the finish on top of a Second Category Climb (which is easier than 1st Category climbs, which are easier than Hors Category climbs). This by no means implies that it’s an easy climb (there are also 3rd and 4th Category climbs) — just hard enough to be out of the question for over two thirds of the peloton to be in the mix.
Ryder, as is his wont, more than lived up to expectations. Hesje had awesome help from Johan “Summie” Van Summeren, probably the tallest man in the peloton, who has an unbelievable ability to dig super deep and push himself to the limit day after day.
Hesje (and Summie) finished with the front group on another stinking hot day, and has moved up from fourth to third place on the overall. We will continue to fight it out in the next few weeks and look forward to the challenges to come.
On top of our normal work with treatment and massage, days like today also include cooling strategies to make sure our boys start to recover as quickly as possible, so they’re ready for the following day’s racing.