Consistent Aggression. I’m in Ipswich, southeast England, and have finally found time to get finger to keyboard (what is the modern equivalent of “pen to paper”?) to scribble (again — what’s the digital version of scribbling? — such important questions on this blog!) down a little of what’s been going on.
This is a very cool race — it goes through beautiful countryside, and the number of fans out on the roads is incredible. There have been a lot of tough stages ranging from mini-Classics stages, through to out and out bunch sprints.
The only beef we as the team staff have with the show is the British traffic. It is so bad that the organisers have to get the whole stage finished well before peak hour, meaning the stages are starting some two hours earlier than we are used to.
There’s a lot of stuff that needs doing when at bike races in the mornings! And we live in Spain! Early morning hours are double figures where we live! There are eyeballs starting to hang out of heads with fatigue as we prepare for Day 7 of this early morning madness. It’s madness I tell you!
That aside, it’s been a good show thus far, despite us losing half of our team to various ailments. As the season comes to an end I am coming across more and more fatigue-related problems — be it physical fatigue leading to pain on the bike, or just a build-up of systemic stress affecting overall health and well-being. This is normal, and is evident in many of the teams in the peloton. It’s a long season of racing, and we still have more to come!
At this race, Garmin-Transitions have been flying the flag with aplomb, but not as much success as we would like. We have been awarded the most aggressive rider for three of the last four stages, and arguably could have received it for the fourth of those stages too.
Unfortunately, each of these gutsy moves (two each by Cameron Meyer and Dan Martin) have been thwarted by the bunch, with our boys being caught in the final 5km too often for it to be funny any more.
On the Queen Stage in Wales Cam was in a group of seven or eight riders, and shot off the front of them for 30 of the final 35km of the stage, only to be caught by the GC contenders in the final 5km in the move that has defined the overall standings of the race.
With massive thanks to Natalie who was on the final cobbled 20% hill (yes, that is as ridiculously hard as it sounds) — here is a link to a cracker of a video of Cam in the hurt box and then Trav getting up the hill anyway he could!
Not to be outdone, Dan then got himself into the break for two consecutive days, the first day launching more attacks on the peloton, his fellow break contenders, and the lumpy roads of southwest England than can be adequately described. That he didn’t win was a huge disappointment as he had truly lit the stage up for virtually the whole show.
His second day up the road (he’s not afraid of a bit of punishment) saw him in a group of ten or so, and he made the decisive move of the race in the final 10km, splitting that group to pieces, but was probably carrying a little too much from the previous day to be able to close the deal.
Cameron’s second day up the road happened today. He was rolling along with one other rider, with quite a handy lead over the bunch when they passed us in the feed zone. We drove along listening to the race radio updates, oscillating between hope and deflation as the numbers first meant the break would stick, then seemed like it wouldn’t, then vice versa and repeat.
Cam spent the final 10km or so dangling off the front of the race, having done away with his break companion earlier. We were shouting at the radio (similar to when JackyBobby was up the road in Eneco) willing Cam to stay away, or for the peloton to lose organisation, or for him to suddenly find an extra 5km/hr, or SOMEthing, and were finally deflated to hear that he had been caught just before the 1km to go banner.
We’ve been super proud of their efforts, and disappointed they haven’t been rewarded as well as we would like (and think they deserve) for them. But that is bike racing.
We also have Christian Meier sitting in 7th place overall, having been in the key break on the second stage of the race, and so are in there swinging. If just one thing goes our way, we’ll be sending them out of the park.
It’s been a strong performance by a weakened team thus far, and we still have two more stages to get a little more action out there.
I have to wrap it up here though. Apparently there are TWO six o’clocks every day, and I have to be up for the one I didn’t know about. Ohhh the agony of this job. Hahahaha!!! Still living the dream.