I hadn’t planned on writing anything about stage 7, after warning the armchair quarterbacks out there to also keep quiet. “No comment” looped through my mind hour after hour once the stage finished as I went through the motions of showering, stretching, and getting horizontal. I suppose, however, if you’re going to get a summary it may as well be from someone taking it in live and in person. So pardon the brevity; here’s a brief run-down.
Yesterday really did up the ante and took the concept of misery on the bike to a new level. Two hours of attacks that I was either in or covering (ave speed +50kph in those two hours), then a break of two riders escaped so we slowed down a bit and I proceeded to become frozen to the core and shivered incessantly for 90 minutes. Next, unwarned from the race profile so seemingly out of nowhere we began climbing rolling hills that didn’t roll – they just went up. Narrow, pouring rain, fully strung out for 90 minutes, followed unceremoniously by someone opening up a gap to the wheel in front of them and the peloton split in two. Chase chase chase, nothing. Game over. 90 more minutes of physical and mental anguish, wishing I were in the front helping Carlos and *hoping* that he wasn’t having problems. It was not to be; he was great position, ~10th wheel just shy of the strade blanca, or however you say, then was crashed into. Mechanical issues plagued him to the finish and he came in 5′ down. My groupetto lost nearly 25′. Adding insult to injury, I was gassed from the first 120 minutes of sprinting like a madman to get into a breakaway so each pedal stroke in the final hour singed the ol’ legs. Slogging through the mud, it was the kind of day your mind just shuts off. Nothing, blank, comatose.
Orrrrrr being the optimist I am, yesterday was the kind of day that makes most other days seem really really good. Reaaaally good.
p.s. To all the superfans out there, I recommend spending your morning hotel dumpster diving. There’s guaranteed to be lot, and I mean, a LOT of filthy, gritty, sandy cycling kit in the trash. Socks, caps, jerseys, bib, you name it!