Was back in the thick of the racing action today with stage 1 of tour of utah kicking of cedar city. I was so excited about pinning the number on again after the past 6 weeks of adventures that I couldn't wait to go to bed last night as the sooner I fell asleep the sooner I would be waking up on race day! So this morning I was like a kid in a candy store and simply couldn't wait for the flag to drop.
The cannondale clan here in utah is a group of dudes basically using the event to prepare for the second half of the season. Having said that that is a positive thing as without a team leader we all have an opportunity to test our legs on occasions that suit ourselves which is nice to be able to do. I guess we have a good bet for a high overall placing in the GC with George Bennett, our kiwi rock spider who has had success here in the past but apart from that we all have a carte Blanche for the week to get ourselves in shape and see what results that can deliver in the process.
So onto stage 1 and it's was a perfect stage for a bunch sprint, all be it a very hard one! We had a couple of long draggy climbs that took us above 3000m elevation but with the last 60km all downhill and basically flat it was going to take a big effort to foil the chances of the fastmen fighting out the stage finish. The stage was nice and controlled, everyone was happy for a small break to go away and ride as easily as possible at such high altitudes and it's wasn't until the plunge down hill back to cedar city began with 50km to race that things started to get exciting.
As the decent began I wasn't taking any chances. Nursing a broken bone, a separated shoulder and worrying about the 16 stitches still inside my knee I decided to take the decent on the front! I had a big chain ring on my bike to ensure I could keep as higher speed as possible and keep the front position and figured basically it was the safest spot to be even if it did require ex pending a little extra energy. With speeds touching 100kmph as we plunged down the canyon I figured that there wasn't much chance of anyone challenging me for the front positions, that was until Mr aerodynamic himself, junior mohoric flew past me in his famous aero tuck and proceeded to simply role away from the peleton. It was quite extraordinary as we were going absolutely full biscuit and junior just kept rolling away, guess you don't win the junior and U23 world titles without having a few tricks up your sleeve!! Junior proceeded to bridge to the days breakaway and as we entered the circuits had a advantage that kept the race in the balance as fatigue started to set into the peleton. Unfortunately for junior there steam ran out before the peleton's did and with 6km to go the group was almost on them so I decided bugger it, I will have a crack myself!
When I attacked from the bunch I felt fantastic, so much so that I bridged across to junior's group and kept on pedaling by. I figured there was no time to see if anyone wanted to come with me and set sail for home! For around 1minute I felt sensational until the reality of racing at altitude hit me! I had attacked with the same vigor I would have at sea level but unfortunately when you do this at 1800m elevation you have only one fire cracker up your sleeve and it has a very short fuse! Sure enough a couple of km's later I had well and truly blown my poopa valve and was heading back to the bunch at a rate of knots! I had again let my ambitions get in the way of my capabilities at altitude but better to learn that on day 1 when hopefully I have time to learn from my mistakes and do better next time. Truth be told I believed I could ride away from the group and got a good gap before putting up the white flag. For me this is a great sign after spending 3 weeks on the home trainer and riding with the injuries I am still recovering from as it means what work I have been able to do has put me in good base level physical shape at least. Suffering like I did attacking however also showed that my top end is seriously lacking but not to worry, I will get that back during this week's race, the most important thing now is to be as aggressive as I can possible be all week and this should ensure all energy systems are in place for the last half of the season.
In the end our boys all finished safely in the main field and junior was awarded the most aggressive rider award for his incredible depending skills, was truly remarkable to watch! All the boys seem to be in good spirits and we're happy to get day 1 under there belts and looking forward to doing what we came here for and look for more opportunities as the week progresses. Personally I am very happy with today, whenever I have a injury on the more serious side it's always my objective to come back as strong if not stronger than before so was relieving to do that. Again have to give all those who kept me positive and motivated and supported me in socal a big big thankyou for the massive part you played in that.
Time for a nice big sleep and then get stuck into round 2!!