The road race before the the rest day turned out to be very hard. They called it the queen stage, which typically means it’s the hardest one of the race, on paper. A big group went off the front from the gun. I think it was about 14 guys. Thor went to the front and closed it down by himself, which is not easy to do. The group was really strung out from some crashes, so when we hit the first climb of the day (just a little cat 3) the group split and I was with enough guys that I didn’t need to panic that I wasn’t in the front half. When we got up and over the hill about 10 guys including myself started swapping off to bring us all back up to the main group. I looked back after a few pulls and laughed, this was the main group. There was about 80 guys in the group, and about 100kms to go. I was like well this has never happened this early before, but no need to freak out with this many guys we really don’t even need to worry about time cut, they can’t cut the field in half. Some of the group started to roll through, but for the most part the group was pretty unmotivated to get back.
Now some people are great motivational speakers, and at times I consider myself one of the best un-motivational speakers of our time. I went to the front and explained the situation to those that still had hope and they gave me a few reasons, some I couldn’t disagree with. I told them “hey you got know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.” They chilled out for a bit but eventually they just couldn’t contain themselves and went for it, so our group lost about 15 guys as they jumped off the front. They would get of sight and hang on cars on the climb to get back on. The rest of our group plowed on. A few more riders from our group attacked on the climb and we all yelled at them.
Then a Cofidis guy, with half his face hanging off from an earlier crash, says to us that one of the guys going off the front had a good place on GC (25th I think) and that he doesn’t have a contract for next year and we shouldn’t give him a hard time, just because we have contracts. Well, I don’t really think he was going to move up from 25th and win the Vuelta. Why not save yourself and go for something else instead of banging your head against the wall. It really is insane trying to get a group to cooperate, making them realize that the group is better off as a group. We all made it to the line and inside the time cut. We all got in the buses and made the transfer to the rest day hotel.
The rest day went by really too fast. We went and checked out the TT course and it looked good. I was looking forward to it.
Well the TT went ok for me today…I got 7th on the day. I wanted to put on a good show for my last race in the Stars and Stripes. It’s been an honor to wear the jersey the last 4 years.