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« One Day Closer... | Main | Jani's In Yellow! »
Thursday
Jun102010

Summer is Here!

For me, summer begins when the heat comes, and today's stage brought the heat from all direction.  The temperature was 98 degrees throughout the valley with lots of sun, while the attacks at the beginning and the end of the day brought heat in another form altogether.

At the beginning of the stage, we were on narrow roads with strong crosswinds.  With 130 miles to cover on the stage, and the first big mountain summit finish coming at the end of the day, it was going to be a hard day on the job for Team RadioShack.  The first 40 minutes of the stage were intense, with hard battling for position at the front of the field.  We had the entire RadioShack team on the front from the start of the race to control the field.  We wanted a break to go with no more then 10 riders, and if possible less then 5.

The crosswinds split the field into pieces within the first few miles of the race.  The team did a great job at front, staying together for the first 10 miles.  After that we kept one or two riders on the front at all times, while letting the others recover in the field from the big efforts they putting in chasing the attacks down.

It was amazing to see how well the team rode together, even when they were on the limit.  No one wanted to let Jani down, and each did more than their fair share of work to get the job done.  At times we had only one of us on the front sprinting all out to chase 20 guys who had escaped from the field, laying everything on the line to keep the race under control. 

After about 25 miles of intense racing, we got what we wanted when a break of two riders escaped from the field, including Danny Pate.  For the next 90 miles there wasn't a lot going on, but once again, we had some great scenery to check out along the way.  We kept two RadioShack riders on the front all day to control the breakaway, holding them at no more then 10 minutes lead throughout the stage.  We then tried to keep the rest of team as rested as possible for the finishing climb.        

On the approach to the final mountain, the action returned in full force.  We hit the climb hard, right from the bottom, with riders attacking from all sides.  Liquigas riders were super motivated to win the stage, and they were the first to light things up.  As soon as the climb got steep, I went to work on the front to control the pace and keep the attacks to a minimum.  My job was a simple one on paper - keep Jani from being isolated.  The original two riders from the break were still up the road, and there were another 4 or 5 riders chasing each other just in front of us.  I got some great help from my teammate Ben Hermans, who took over the front for a few crucial kilometers, giving me a chance to recover.

Photo courtesy of Graham WatsonI got my second wind and a little recovery just as next group of attacks came.  I took over from Ben and started setting into a rhythm on the climb.  On the headwind portions, the front group remained uncharacteristically large, as the riders behind were using a lot less energy while sitting in my draft.  While pulling in the headwind sections, I would ease off just a little to give myself a chance to recover, and then after the hairpin turn when the wind would change to a tailwind I would increase the pace.  

That tactic would help to string out the group behind me, which in turn meant that when we hit the headwind section, if anyone wanted to attack, they would have to use a lot more energy just to get to front again before they could even try to get away.  At that point, the team car was far behind, caught in the traffic of dropped riders, meaning that I had to stay just below my max.  If anything happened to Jani I was his last line of help, so I was doing everything I could to save energy and make the job a little easier.

With each attack, Gallo was quick to tell us who they were and how far behind Jani they were on the general classification.  I let each attack go and stayed in rhythm, gradually bringing back rider after rider.  When we hit about 2 miles to go, the big attack came.  Alberto had all of his guys hit it hard, shattering what was left of the group into pieces.  I had to let the groups go by me as I was hitting my max and needed to recover from my effort on the front before I could go again.  

At that point, even with Jani up the road, I couldn't relax because I knew that if he had a flat or some kind of problem I would have to be there to help.  I jumped from one group to the next, recovered then jumped again to the next, leap-frogging my way back to the front.  With each effort my lungs were burning and the legs were on fire, but when I hit the 500 meters to go sign, I could final ease up and call it a day.

Jani did a great job of following attack after attack from Alberto all the way to the line, and even increasing his lead on the second place rider in the general classification. It was a hard day, but with several more big stages to come, it’s going to be a great Dauphine!

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Reader Comments (31)

Great teamwork Chris!! Very exciting day from the sounds of it. Keep up the hard work.

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Barnett

great summary, chris!
it's always exciting to hear what goes on during mountainous stages...looking forward to tmrw's post

hope jani can hold on to his lead cuz we all know AC is lurking from somewhere

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteraiyaya

It was the soda and candy bars that put you over the edge, wasn't it?

Great work. Still more mountains to go!

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTrae

Chris-
I love reading your write-ups each day! You tell a great story and provide wonderful insight. Looking forward to tomorrow's and many more to come.

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDV

Now that's a serious blow-by-blow write up! Great stuff!

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Chris,

Great job today! Enjoy reading your narratives from inside the race. Hope to see you in France soon where you belong.

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBuz

Awsome work you did today and thanks for blogging, great as usual. :)

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAntonio Costa

Looking Good on the climb. Rrally sounds like you are feeling strong, fit and racing smart. Thanks for the reminder for all of us not to blow up / get ourselves to a point that we can't recover from. Maybe all those solo crits as the lone rep for Astana in the US are paying dividends now. I am rooting for you to make the 2010 TDF roster for TRS. Go get 'em!

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdb9chgo

Awesome job. I love you guys. I love to watch you dominate!

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCraigo

Gawd, I love reading your descriptions of the race. It gives me a real feel for what's going on.

And thanks go to, Steephill.tv for providing a link to online viewing. I was up at 5:00 am, just in time to catch you putting hurt into the peloton. It was classic USPS/Discovery/RadioShack teamwork. Jani was amazing countering every attack Contador threw at him. What a team!

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I wish my friends who just don't get my obsession with watching cycling would read this. I always try to explain to them that it's a lot more than some guys on their bikes trying to get to the finish line first. Thanks for an insiders' view on the 'chess game' tactics that are so riveting for us cyclophiles to witness.

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersbwg33

Just like I hear people in the nba talking about " basketball IQ" Chris, you have "cycling IQ". Big time!

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergd

I love these race reports. The detail, the insight, the tactics, no other report of the race comes close. Sure hope we get to read these during the TdF

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwayne

Great race report....love it..... say hi to fellow Atlantic Canadian... Christian Meier.. Garmin

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim (Atlantic Canada)

Great read really helped me visualise the race. Glad u have had no accidents wishing you health fitness and happiness

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlak1

Love reading your reports Chris. I sure hope you make the TdF squad and get to win a stage in addition to playing super domestique. We are all rooting for you....

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Hello once again, that I found your blog I think became blog budies lol!Apart all

Jokes nice page!I'm Marco I'm newbie at this web surfing stuff!Enjoyed a lot here

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