Today’s temperature was half what it was yesterday, here in Adelaide. Still 20 degrees C, so not exactly cold, it felt pretty sweet compared to yesterday’s day in the sauna! Each morning the whole peloton, including all support staff and vehicles, are given a full police escort to each stage start, so red lights and traffic are not an issue! After a quick breakfast and all of the usual pre-race routines, we were soon in the car and on the way to the start. It wasn’t so far away, so in no time at all we were at the start and ready to go.
A few people asked me what kind of special stuff we are doing over here to help us with the crazy temperatures and so on. First of all, we all have a bottle every morning containing the electrolytes we need to replace what we are losing each day. Again, before the race we will drink some more of this stuff, which actually tastes quite nice. Of course, a copious amount of suncream is applied each day; the last thing we need is sunburn. During the race we obviously drink a lot more fluid, so the ‘mix’ we use is a little less concentrated than normal.
Also during the race, we will have the option of using some small ice packs, which we will stuff down the back of our jerseys on our necks. These help to cool our core temperature down a little. We also eat slightly more than normal. With the temperature this high, the body is constantly burning energy to try and keep us cool and the heart is working a little harder too, so an extra gel per hour is normally enough. After the race the routine is pretty much the same, the usual recovery drink, stretching, massage and ice bath before our evening meal.
So, what about the race? Today was pretty tough; the finish circuits were always going to be heavy and very wearing down. The plan was all about positioning again but since the finish was too hard to think about any type of a leadout, we just had to put Gerald [Ciolek] and Gert [Steegmans] into a good spot in the final kilometre and leave them to it. The normal breakaway went away at the start with just two riders. Nothing myself or any other Quickstep boys were interested in.
Gerald has been climbing really well in the last few weeks, so we had all of our faith in him pulling something off at the finish. After one of the riders in the break decided to call it a day, it was just one guy alone. Anyone would call him crazy but it turns out he wasn’t so crazy after all. Will Clarke is a friend of mine. I raced with him a fair bit as an amateur in Belgium so I know just how strong he is. When I saw the gap at over 10 minutes with 40km to go, I knew we would never catch him! Chapeau, Will!
So we were left racing for 2nd, still something we wanted to give everything for. The guys all rode well and we put Gerald into a top 10 position with less than 600m to go. From then on the positions didn’t change much as everyone was just trying to hold onto their speed and keep some momentum for the last slog to the line. Gerald finished up 9th.
My day was over with around 800m to go and I still managed to loose over 2 minutes! That’s how dead I was!
Tomorrow should be another sprint, so it’ll be leadout time again! Even though it’s crazy most of the time and crashes like yesterday are bound to happen. I still love it!
Fingers crossed, we all arrive unscathed tomorrow, we manage to go through the right processes and we throw our sprinter to the top!
Massage time now!