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Teamwork Seals the Deal!

Simply put, Team RadioShack rode a fantastic Dauphine, fighting through huge obstacles to bring home the overall win.  After the crash in first stage, we were already down one rider when Haimar broke his wrist and had to leave the race, not to mention that Markel, G4, and Ben were hurt in the crash and spent the rest of the week racing below their best fitness as a result of those injuries.  When half the team was already either down or out after stage one, it really showed what the team was made of and how much we all really like each other in the constant sacrifice and work that was given through each difficult stage.

All week long, I saw the team suffering to keep Jani in yellow.  With each climb we would lose anywhere from 2 to 4 riders by the summit, only to have them fight back to peloton to immediately take another pull on the front time and again.  It hurt me to see Tomas, who didn't make the time cut yesterday, feeling bad this morning.  He spent more time on the front then anyone in the race, working day after to day to keep the rest of the team that much fresher for the later part of each stage, and yet still felt bad about being unable to help today.   

At the start of today's stage, it was once again all out when a group of 8 escaped.  Three teams chased the break with everything they had, going through the valley before the first and only big climb of the day, which began 30 miles into the stage.  As we hit the climb, the break was only 45 seconds in front of us, and every team was trying to send riders across to it.

For Team RadioShack Paulinho was putting on a show.  We had lost everyone on the team except Paulinho, myself, and Jani, who of course needed to stay protected and save energy for the general classification fight.  Paulinho drove the pace steadily up the entire climb, while I would follow any attacks that might put the team in danger of losing the jersey.  After each attack was neutralized, Paulinho would just continue riding his tempo past everyone that had attacked us, while I would return, tucking back onto his wheel until the next attack came.  Finally, we got the break we wanted established, allowing us to ease off the pace and recover just a little.

Markel, G4, and Ben fought to return to front once again to take over the work from Paulino and I.  When the break gained too much time, the other teams began pulling on the front to protect their own leaders’ places on general classification, or perhaps, thinking about the one last shot at winning a stage in this year’s race.  The Dauphine was nearing its end, but not before they threw one last obstacle at us.

We entered the 7 mile circuit that we would do 5 times, with everyone on the limit from the pace of the teams chasing.  The weather was unpredictable – with rain on the descent and dry on the climb, making the day even more difficult.  And the circuit itself was not going to be an easy one.  It had a mile and a half long climb that averaged 9%, but the second half had to be closer to 11 or 12% - in other words, HARD.

As we hit the climb each lap, the pace would increase, decreasing the size of the field at the same time.  The descent wasn't any easier, with each wet turn causing the field to split apart even further.  And, at the bottom, it was a full sprint out of the last corner to hold the wheel in front of me as we crossed the finish line each lap. I can’t image how hard it must have been for the non-climbers to close the gaps to the field after each descent, since it was hard enough in the group – all I could think was “Thank God I can climb!”

As we hit the climb for the last time, riders started attacking immediately right from the bottom.  Astana took over the front and set a blistering pace that allowed no one to get very far.  Just as we neared the summit, one final hard attack came, and what was left of the field blew apart.  I had to pass 4 riders to stay in contact with the front group.  As we flew down the descent, an AG2R rider was taking every risk possible to catch the break that was only seconds ahead of us at that point.  After a few turns, I hard a big crash just behind me, while Tejay van Gardener came flying by me to close the gap that was just front us.  From there on out my job was done for Jani, and I could ease up just a bit and take it safe to finish line.

It was a fantastic race, and I can't be happier to see Jani win.  He has been my teammate and roommate now for three years, and I can assure you no one works harder or deserves it more!  So congratulations Jani and Team RadioShack - overall winners of the 2010 Criterium du Dauphine! 

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Reader Comments (28)

Thank you for your great account of the Dauphine. It is really a pleasure to read your updates and get a feel for what it is really like out there. Paul and Phil do a good job, but getting your view is the best. Please keep it up!!!! Your attitude, teamwork, and ability to eat snickers are all truly inspiring!

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFanR

Chris, congrats to the team on a great win and to you. Glad to see you are on the right team and having a good time. Keep up the great riding and your informative post. Stay healthy for the TOUR!

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterParlee

Perfect tune-up for Le Tour. There is no way you are not on the team and rockin' it through France in a few weeks.

Thanks for all the great posts. Love reading them. You are a true class act, and the ultimate team player. On to the tour!

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterineedsun7

I agree with FanR, I look forward to your insights into the reality of the day. Fabulous job done by the team and Jani and nice job yesterday. Looking forward to seeing you in the Tour. Thanks and waiting for your next post.

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershera

Great job today! Excellent race reports. Congratulations!

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterred

Thanks for taking the time to tell your fans your personal account from inside the peloton. Much appreciated.

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeylina8

Chris, great race. Dude you are always in the mix every stage, and I can't wait to see the action in the Pyrenees next month. I offered you an in-n-out burger at the start of the TOC stage in San Francisco last month, and I was up in Bourg D'Oisans last week and was thinking I should have brought you one after the stage on the Alpe. Keep on rockin' it man. -RS

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRS

Hey Chris, Thanks for the updates! I watched the race and the team looks solid. Keep up the hard work and I'm looking forward to seeing you at the TDF. That was an awesome pull you did for TJ.


June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTeam Dad

outstanding result.. well done to the whole team..

These reports are brilliant, watching it on the tv is one thing, but getting a view from the inside is another..

Please keep them up through the permitting!

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNick Langdon

You guys should all be proud. Thanks for the reports--I can't tell you how much I/all of us appreciate your talents on the bike and on the keyboard. I know of no other racer who seems to enjoy the ride more and does such a wonderful job of relaying it. (PS: That was very kind of you to help out Tejay.)


June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJVM

Awesome job Chris! As always, I'm super impressed by your enthusiasm, your team spirit, and--not least!--your ability on a bike. To do so much work for Jani and still finish top 10 is a real accomplishment.

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTG

Congrats Chris and team. Well done!

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBman

Congrats to you Chris, Jani, Sergio and all of The Shack team! Fantastic work!

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAntonio Costa

Chris, You are a class act! I have kids also and it is great to be able to use examples of your actions in racing as lessons in sportsmanship. You deserve the best and have earned it also.

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTP

Did you recive team instruction to slow down and wave Tejay Van Garderen on to your wheel on Alp d'huez? or were you being your usual magnamous self!?

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrainbow

great writing Chris. finally some real accounts of the racing conditions. everyone else is so tough guy and devoid of gory details in their recall. like, yeah, today was tough. Maybe they are too tired to recount and write! so thanks for your great efforts to keep us in all your pain. and you are on the tour team. can't believe that was ever in question honestly so kudos for successfully navigating the political crap. barf! and I hope in the future that you reveal you finally got the pay you deserved!!!!

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Good writing, beautiful pictures, wow, it is wonderful,wonderful, we will always support you!men gucci shoe

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterifusan

I might make the exception for that, but nothing replaces the written word. THAT is what blogging is all about.-cheap ROLEX phones

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