Little beauty!!! Finally some delight for the green machine here in the rarefied air of the rockies with elia the green missile Viviani demolishing the field in today's very selective bunch sprint in colorado springs. Yesterday was perhaps the lowest of low days for the team performance wise in my years with the team with none of us making the front group. 24hrs in cycling can be a very long time and with the scares of what went just a day before the cannondale clan stepped onto the startling ready to rally around our sprinting team leader elia and give him a shot at stage glory! In the team meeting our director gave us one simple message! Don't make a mistake and regardless of the outcome ride with intelligence. It was just what we needed to here, we have made bucket loads of errors in the past couple of races through a range of reason and they have been amplified with the suffering at altitude. Today however we had to show why we are one of the biggest teams in the world and ride the race accordingly, "important" alberto volpi emphasized, "no mistakes".
As far as race strategy goes our plan was very simple. Before the start Elia wasn't convinced he would survive in the front group on such a demanding circuit. With this in mind we decided we would see how elia feels halfway through the race and if he was confident we would start working to ensure a sprint finish. I had the hunch elia would be tickedy boo today and sure enough he said game on with around 40km to go and we began deploying the troops accordingly. The only little concern we had was the fact Jensie was up the road and had a very big lead! In his final season he seems to have more enthusiasm than any new professional in the peleton and is still the hardest rider in the world to chase down. Anyways fortunately the pace had been on for a majority of the day which proved to be crucial for a couple of reasons. Firstly I meant we didn't have to do any work for the first 2/3 of the race and secondly the guys up in the breakaway including Jensie had to ride extremely hard to gain and maintain there advantage. First we set our big diesal Ted King of the road King and Mr versatile salerno up to the front to help ramp up the chase a bit. At this stage they were still chasing a group of 10 riders but as the gap started to fall, surprize surprize!! Jensie attacked and went solo! The most impressive part about this is the fact that all 10 guys in the group knew what Jensie was going to do and when he decided it was time to fly none of them could do a thing about it! That's just another clear illustration of what an absolute legend Jensie is! Anyways with ted and christian up the front the gaps started falling, not much jens but soon his fellow escapees had been re absorbed into the peleton. With the boys rolling over on the front the rest of us rallied around elia at the front and kept his as well positioned and fresh as possible, we knew the final 25km lap would be full gas and Elia was going to need all his bullets to get through it and pull out one of his blistering bursts of speed.
Onto the final lap we rolled and we sat patiently waiting for stage 2 of our plan. After absolutely turning himself and everybody else having to follow in the peleton inside out, christiano tapped me into the paceline and chase train, my turn to step up to the plate! Jens had actually just dangerously increased his lead to over 2min 30sec with 20km to go so I knew the pulls on the front had to be all out to try and psychologically atleast let jens know we were still coming at him. I love hitting the front of the peleton, there is a strange adrenaline rush that hits your lactate filled legs and all of a sudden you seem to have a few more gears in your cluster. Luckily everyone else knew it was now or never and all went all in and finally the gap started to come down. You know when the peleton is chasing hard as you do your turn and then basically have to do another all out effort to get yourself back in the pace line! That's exactly what it was like today in those final 20km's, Jensie was giving everyone one final reminder just what an absolute legend he is and just how much horsepower that big V12 German engine has!
Today's circuits around colorado springs took place within the garden of the gods. I am told it's extremely beautiful there but sadly I had lactate acid up to my eyeballs all day though there so didn't get much of a chance to enjoy it! Must go back some time. Anyways the circuits were made hard by a 20% wall of around 500m as we entered the park. This was just to soften us up as from there the next few km's kept false flat and rolling up basically giving you no Rest bite until you finally plunged back down to down town at around 10km to go. This climb on the final lap was always going to be full gas for a number of reasons. Firstly those up front want to go as hard as possible to make it hard for those down the back. The sprinters whom can climb want it fast to try and dislodge there fellow fast men more challenged by gravity. And thirdly it's the last lap and 15km's or so from the finish so nobody is holding anything back! Basically put you simply shut your eyes and grit your teeth and go as hard as you possibly can and hope when you get to the top you are still in the front group! On the final lap I finally reminded myself how to really hurt myself again! I hadn't really dug deep since my bingle in training 6 weeks ago but today finally had that spark and urge back to see what it feels like when you have gone way beyond your comfort zone. Normally the climb wouldn't have been so bad but as I had been pulling full gas on the flat run in to the climb the climb was now absolute torture!! Anyways we hit the climb and sure enough it was full biscuit! I sat behind elia and just gritted my teeth knowing that if he got over it I needed to get over it aswell as he still needed troops for the run into the finish line. As we charged up the climb I also spotted motorbike marongoni whom absolutely turns himself inside out for elia race after race after race and after suffering so badly this week in colorado he was now showing his all round class as a rider and team mate and right in the middle of the selection being made on the garden of the gods wall! Once we were over the top not surprisingly lots of riders were dropped. This obviously meant the workhorse stocks of teams were seriously depleted and it's was all down to us. Elia noticed immediately and put up his hand and in a blink of an eye motorbike marongoni was on the front and in hot pursuit of Jensie. I dragged my lactate filled backside to front but to be honest it took all my power simply to get to marunga's rear wheel! Once there I was in big danger of completely exploding and was definitely not going to pull the skin of a rice custard compared to what motorbike marongoni was doing so I retreated to the group to recover a little. Motorbike marongoni put out an absolutely phenomenal turn of 5km or so and carved out a huge chunk of jensie's lead and with 10km to go he was down to below 1min 30sec, we now had a chance. Elia saw me struggling and simply said "Cam if you have anything left try and help marunga when you can" its amazing how inspiring calm words like this are from your team captain in these moments and I instantaneously felt as strong as ten men. My plan was to recover on the plunge down into the city and then go and give it my all on the 6km run into the finish. I sucked in some big one's and finally with 6km to go as I planned I was back on the front with marunga for one final haul!!
Jensie could sniff the big victory and we could sniff a bunch sprint! To paint a picture there were 4 of us guys all over 6 foot tall on the front of the peleton going full full blast and Jensie was still holding us at bay! The only saving grace we had was the long straight roads so we could see our prey and that always gives you that extra little bit of mumbo jumbo. Motorbike marunga was still absolutely powering along like a locomotive on the front as he had done for almost 15km's now, an absolutely brilliant best on groud performance from the green machine. After Elia's pep talk I had an extra kick in my pedal stroke back and as we hit a few km's to go I knew Jensie wasn't going to survive. Also remembering your chasing Jensie always adds to the motivation, you really really have to earnt and if you catch him it's a special and always memorable feeling. It's funny as your in two minds as you want to catch him so bad but you also want to see him win!! It's just a special race anytime jens is involved! With the line in sight and no more than 2km to go there were plenty of dudes will to chip in with a pull on the front mush stronger than I could bang out so I went back into the group to ensure elia was all ok. I had enough juice in the tank to get him out of trouble and up front if need be but certainly has used up all my turbo boosting effort so any type of lead out was out of the question. Elia simply asks that with 1km to go he is in the right wheels to contest the sprint. He doesn't expect a big lead out train when the whole team is not built around him but make very good use of the resources he has available to him. So with 1km to go the jens show was over and elia was on the wheel he wanted so all I could do now was sit back and watch the show!
It was a head wind sprint so the final 500m seemed to happen in slow motion. The group even smarmed for a second before ty magner of the hincapie team finally hit out first and guess who was on his wheel?? Yep the green missile himself! At this point I knew the win would be elia's! He allowed ty to drag them away from the rest of the field before kicking like a mule with 200m to go on his way to yet another emphatic victory. I call him the missile as from watching from behind that's what it looked like, he picks his moment to come out of the slip stream and fly by his opposition so fast that he sucks there helmet of in the process, it's jolly awesome to see!!
So that was an absolutely brilliant day for the green machine. After our performances here in america it was one we so desperately needed and has now got our swagger and confidence back. Fortunately for us we still have 3 more stage left here in colorado so bet your bottom dollar will keep trying to replicate the enjoyment of today all the way to Denver!
115km in 2hrs 35min
Ave power 275 watts
Kcal burnt 2800
Average elevation 2000m
Peak power 1337watts
1min power 619watts
30sec power 685 watts (the average length of pull and effort required to pull back jensie!)
5min peak power 436 watts