Tuttle and I knew what was to be done the final day at SDSR which was to protect our leader in the GC…and Green and KOM leader. We memorized the #s of the 4-5 guys next in the GC standings who were all about a minute to two minutes back. It would be very difficult for them to attack and make up this time but we weren’t about to take any chances. This was priority one for us and priority two was trying to get the 2nd place points for the green jersey (why not) and try and get the win on the stage to cap off the LG dominance.
Somehow I came into this day feeling pretty good. Waking up, I felt pretty clogged up after the notorious Stage 2. But after some delicious Tuttle coffee and more importantly, IBUPROFEN, I was feeling pretty slick. I got a good warmup and talked to Augusto and Jeff and pretty much told Gus to stay with the pack and on both wheels. I told Jeff we need to crush the attacks and manage the front for the entirety of the hour.
We did just that. All the top 4-5 GC guys (and corresponding teams) were attacking left and right and we shut them down every time – quickly. The 2nd place GC rider was very strong but he couldn’t get away from us. I would chase him and the others down and after we caught them, Jeff would push the pace on the hill to put pressure on the pack. We continued this all race and the top 5 GC riders began to accept their fate. There were a few spots where I would chase for a bit and then be on the front and a bit gassed. I would simply yell “A LITTLE HELP!” and within seconds Tuttle would fly by me and begin his stint at the front as I began to rest. PERFECTION. I could only smile at that moment.
When the one and only “Hot Sprint” came I was ready. I was third wheel out of the turn and put in a quick and sharp sprint to grab those sprint points. Success number one. I knew I had a slim chance of getting all 40 sprint points (With Hot Sprint and Race Win) available and nabbing the 2nd place in the sprint competition; but no reason not to try today. Anyway, I got one out of the way and there was one to go – the Finish.
We continued to chase down whatever attacks followed and with the lap cards starting to show, I remained at the front to make pace and hold good position. Jeff continued to mash up the hill and hurt the field.
When the final lap came, I was 3rd wheel and the 2nd place GC rider wanted to make pace at the front. Because of this, I got a perfect leadout all lap and nobody behind came up to get position. The pace was hard enough that the “swarming effect” just wasn’t there the last lap like it usually is. With one turn to go, I was still third wheel and was watching my back…but nobody was coming. They just stayed and waited. With 100m left before the final fast turn, I sprinted by the leadout and was first into the turn. I believe I got a decent gap here and went through the turn fast…so fast that my wheels skipped a bit on the exit. I hit one of the road reflectors and thought I killed the potential of a win. However, I believe my turn was fast enough to cover this slight slow down. I sprinted and accelerated as soon as I could and had enough fuel to get to the line first. I was so happy! The first thought was that we grabbed two stages and also did a flawless job of breaking down attacks. The win was just a cherry on top. The win also sealed the 2nd place in the green jersey which was even more sweet since I was behind only my teammate in that competition…I guess I can deal with that :)
Nice work everyone. We all did great in a tough tough weekend. Thanks for the experience!