Reporting live on the Blind Squirrel network... Stage 1 is a 52 mile affair full of big ring climbs, fast ass descents, painful rollers and miracle headwinds.
Watched the morning races, took some cool photos which I can't post until I get home, and watched the whiff come out of sick bay to do just fine thanks. Have been flirting with sort of a sore throat/sinus situation but it seems to have decided to go elsewhere. Felt awesome riding last night so we'll see how it goes.
Lap 1 was kind of a snoozer. The most downhill section had a big headwind, the climb also had a headwind, and no one wanted to do too much with a race that "never" breaks up when there's still a TT and a big queen stage to come. We go through the sprint point at the finish and I take the front (of course I got no sprint points) and scare the crap out of myself with how fast I take turn 1. It's a perfectly idiotic time to attack, so I do. Some guy with DEEP ass wheels (he became Johnny Deep to me) rolls through and we coerce 10 other guys to come with. Pretty quickly we're out to a 30" gap, as we turn onto climbing road. One guy with a GJ bottle (nice!) is keeping me from doing dumb shit, and there are a few guys who I suss out as the guys.
We get through the KOM spot and stay together for the bomber descent. We were a smaller group after that, no idea how. GJ bottle guy's warnings that we'd need the big dudes who sucked on the climb proved prescient. That section before the sprint point/finish was a power section and the big dudes earned their missed pulls back there.
So we've been away for a lap. I haven't missed a pull and feel good, but I'm not anxious to solve this riddle all alone. A small chase caught us and we are now like 18 dudes. Time to definitely not do a ton. Turns out I probably did too much, oh well. We get to climbing road and dudes are definitely olé-ing their pulls. I tell GJ bottle guy f it I'm just attacking every pull I take. So I do. And we thin the herd to maybe 12 guys. Still too many. Rabobank-looking kit team guy just f'ing KILLS it for like 3k to just before the KoM spot and all hell breaks loose. Some guys totally shoot their wads, who the heck knows. Our gap is 40" to a field of unknown size, and I'd told myself that if we had 40" over the top, that we'd be good to go. So we have a little rise, one guy hammers it, I get on his wheel with all I've got left, and go to the front for the bomber descent. 54.8mph, I swear most of which I held through the turn at the bottom. Big gap behind me so I just sort of roll it out. There's about 6 or 7 miles left, and I'm not winning this thing from there. The good story is that it caused a split. I think there were 6 dudes from there on out.
The section before the finish was the one I'd hated all day. Normally I'm better at these but I seriously was the only guy who was left who took all his pulls except Rabobank looking (and riding like) dude. I'd been all in on this break for like 40 miles. I'm too shot even to see what's happening behind, I rotate through a few times and it seems like we're six of us but it's full time chewing on the bars and who knows what the fuck is really happening. At one point, I'm dropped. 100% dropped. That was the only time I looked back, and there was only a motorbike somewhere behind us. What kind of a useless hunk of crap would I be to get dropped now and get no result out of this? I went mad crazy hard from somewhere and caught back on, and sat there. Screw it, I started the break, I'm staying in it. With 1k to go, I'm actually thinking about winning. With 500m to go I jump too early and get 6th. I don't know how far back it was to the group and no idea how many were in that group, but my ass was 6th. And that was cool as hizzell.
Tomorrow's TT is going to suck nuts. At this point I'm in a GC position that I didn't imagine. We will see. Even if it comes to nothing, today was a mint day on the bike, and is adequate reward for the substantial amount of focus I put into this race. I've never in my life felt like I did today. For just that one day, I knew what it was like to pretty much not suck at all.
The GJ bottle guy, even though he got dropped from the lead group, is my hero for preventing me from being stupid until it was time to be.