Tour of Romandie: Part 3
Finding form in the days break
It’s pretty simple to describe, actually. It was a long day. It was a hard day. It was my best chance for a stage victory.
I was essentially in the break from kilometer zero. Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Belisol) and Matthew Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) joined me up the road. We had to fight pretty hard in the first 30 minutes to establish our lead. The field was intent on closing us down. Fortunately, they finally relented and we stayed away.
We built up our lead to about five minutes, and wanted to hold it there. We took it easy through the middle section to ensure the gap wouldn’t go up to much. If it had, the bunch could have panicked and started the chase earlier. With 50 kilometers remaining, we all went 100%.
We did everything we could to hold off the field, but it wasn’t enough. There’s a climb right before the finish. We anticipated this would be the trouble spot. We knew it would be tough to get over the climb without the field catching us. I heard that there were three or four teams on the front racing us, so that tells you how hard we were going. The peloton hunted us down.
The team spoke about the potential for a break to succeed today. My roommate, Fumy Beppu, was in the break two years ago on this exact same stage. The break stayed away that day, and he ran second. Of all the four road stages, this appeared to be the most likely day that a break could hold off the bunch. That’s why I put so much effort into the break. It was the team’s best chance, and my best chance, of getting a stage win.
As the week has gone on, I continue to be pleased with my road condition. This is my first road race with the team since Paris-Nice, and that was a fair while ago now. I’m still not 100% but I’m definitely happy with my current fitness. This race has proven to be the perfect build up for my objectives at Tour of California.
Photos from the day: (c) Graham Watson