We quite literally set sail in the 2013 Vuelta a España today. The start line of the TTT was set on a temporary glass bottom jetty which required teams to take a short ferry ride to. Certainly quite unique and considering my back ground in water sports I felt it was a good omen for the Cannondale boys for the first stage. Alas, by days end it would not prove to be the case on this occasion.
We certainly had high hopes heading into today’s TTT and started with this enthusiasm. Ultimately it was probably our downfall as before half way we had already lost three riders and a fourth rider had set up camp on the back. Its so easy to push a little harder than your body wants you to in a TTT. Firstly your adrenaline is pumping as its a race, secondly your team mates are all giving 100% on the front and you are constantly champing at the bit to get forward and do your bit, and thirdly you simply don’t want to be seen to be letting your team mates down. So sadly all these positive and team orientated objectives can unceremoniously come back and slap you in the face when your legs decide they won’t do what your head is asking them to do.
So this was our situation and very early it was evident that Dall’Antonia and Basso were extremely strong and their fearsome turns of speed were putting the team well and truly aboard the pain train. Dall’Antonia in particularly is an absolute machine in these TTT’s, I guess you only need to see the destructive leadouts he performed for Elia Viviani at the Giro to understand the horsepower this bloke has in these type of efforts. He is truly a highly valued teammate.
I immediately knew with our final six we had a few more in trouble so I took on the role of keeping the pace smooth for everyone to recover and fill in the gaps on the climbs when they just needed that little extra breather. There was no point me putting the pedal to the metal as well as at the end of the day we needed a minimum of five to finish (the team time is taken when the 5th rider crosses the line). As it turned out with 5km to go we nearly had three riders left so caution was needed by someone and today that person was me. I’s days like today that my rowing days really come back to me. In a rowing boat there’s no point ripping the side of the boat if your partner or partners cannot match you, you will simply go around in circles. So today was an indicator of where we were at as a team. That’s why they call it team time trial as you need to pull as one, and that’s what we were able to achieve today.
The positive to come out of htis was that Ivan (Basso) is in absolutely impeccable form and is certain to get even stronger as the race goes on. Also, every rider is totally committed to the cause and while it may have meant a few seeing red a little earlier than they may have hoped, it still shows how determined we all are to give all we have for the teams objectives. That’s a huge positive out of the day.
I was really happy with my ride today. It was a big improvement from the Giro and today I did it with a much cooler head. I would have loved to lay it on the line a little more but in the end so long as I am improving in the discipline I can’t really ask for much more of myself. I now have another 20 days in which I can bury myself until my heart’s content to keep Ivan in the GC, so I was cautious to not burn any energy today that I had in the tank.
So that’s day one stage down. Not a great start result-wise, but one that’s behind us now. Tomorrow the race heads immediately to a mountain top finish so there will another shake up of the field there. Judging by what I saw of Ivan today there’s pretty good odds on him climbing back up the GC rankings by day’s end tomorrow.
So in true what I believe to be true Vuelta style its almost midnight and I am still wide awake so time for me to knock out a few more pages of Sean Kelly’s book to calm me down and get some shut-eye. The adventure has only just began!!