Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stage 3 Vuelta a Chihuauha

Yesterday was stage 3 of the Vuelta a Chihuahua. It was 200 k with a cat 2 climb, a cat 1 climb, and a cat 3 climb. It started off in Perral and headed to the small mountain town of Guachochi. For the first 50 k it rolled up and down to the cat 2 climb but mostly upwards. It was fast on these rollers and many riders fell off the back including Eric Keim and Yosvany Falcon of my team. Eric eventually pulled out of the race because he is tired from a long year. It was very tough but I managed to hang on through the cat 2 climb. After the cat 2 climb it went downwards for about 50 more k. However there were rollers in this direction too, and there was never really any time for rest. Then we hit the cat one climb at 110k. Almost immediately riders started popping off the back. I went off the back by a little bit but could see the group in front of me for most of the climb. I was in a group of three riders: myself, a Mexican, and an Italian. The Italian riders team car came up next to him and he held on to his team car until he was back in the group. That was kind of annoying but there was only around 70k to go around then. I planned on chugging through until the end. By the top of the climb I was about 2 minutes or so behind the group. I dropped the Mexican on the climb, and Martin Gilbert of Kelly Benefits rolled up next to me. We planned on working together for the next 70 k. Then Gus, my team director, came up next to us and told us to hold on to our car. I didn't really want to do it, but I saw other people doing stuff like this so I did it. He brought us up to a group of about 20 guys. We rolled in the last 60 k with this group. It was pretty tough at the end of this course too. There was a climb that was just as tough as or tougher than that cat 3 climb, and it wasn't even categorized. So I finished the stage and thought I would be able to start today.
Then Gus came into my room and told me he saw the results and they disqualified Gilbert and me. I was a little annoyed because I saw other people do this. I could have made the time cut because Yosvany was behind me and he made the cut. I feel decent and know I could have finished this race. It is just annoying because I came here to race and I have five more days here where I am not racing. It's also annoying because stuff like this happens at bigger races and nothing happens, but I will just make the best of my trip here in Mexico and come home.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Vuelta a Chihuahua Stage 2

Today was the 2nd stage of the Vuelta a Chihuahua. It was 150 k from Chihuahua City to some other town. It looked like we climbed out of Chihuahua from the profile, but it was just kind of rolling in an upwards direction. We started off really fast, and I got a flat like 10k in. Luckily the pace lessened and it was easy for me to get back in the group. There was a cat 4 kom about 35 k into the stage. A group of two went and one more guy bridged up to them. They quickly got three minutes and I thought this group would get caught. The peloton seemed unmotivated and the gap kept growing. With 40 k to go the gap was up to 8 minutes. I was scared by now because I thought that I missed out on something big. About then Saunier Duval, Relax Gam, Canarias, and Liberty Seguros got on the front. The gap plummeted very fast. By 20 k it was 4 min. By 10 k it was 2. 2 of the guys stayed away to the line but they didn't have a gap at all. I am happy with today because I used very little energy and lost no time. Tomorrow is a 200 k stage with a cat 2, cat 1, and cat 3 climb. It is going to be tough but I think I am ready.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stage One Vuelta a Chihuahua

Today was stage one of the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Chihuahua Mexico. This is a UCI 2.2 Stage race that has teams like Saunier Duval, Relax Gam, Slipstream, and Agritubel. It is 7 stages over 8 days and will be the toughest race of my life so far. Today's stage took place in Juarez, just over the border from El Paso Texas. It was a pretty easy stage. It was flat 6 k hotdog course. We rode down a 3 lane road with a median for 3 k did a 180 rode back three k to do another 180. It was a headwind one way and tailwind the other. So today was really really easy. I just sat in like all day and wasted no energy. It kind of sucks because a group of about 40 go up the road 12 k in, but we got Eric Keim in the move so that was good. I was near the front and said to myself that a group this big is going to get away no way this early. But I was wrong and this group gained like 3 min on the field. However, it isn't so bad that I missed the split. I wasted no energy today, so that is important. The gaps in this race are large by the end because of the long mountainous days, so I can make up some time by the end and will move up some in the general classification probably. Who knows what will happen it is a long race. I feel good and am ready to give it my all. I got a flat today too and they gave me a free lap on this large circuit. That was pretty crazy. So that was about it for today. We go to the airport en route to Chihuahua city pretty soon.
The flight was pretty uneventful and everything seemed good. Mexico is a very nice country. It is a lot less crazy than I thought it was going to be. We arrived at our hotel for tonight around 6 pm. It is called Palacio del Sol. It is nice but seems kind of old. The rooms have a kind of retro style. Some people were stuck in the elevator between our floor and another. The staff was running around trying to figure things out. Finally they got the people out of the elevator. It was pretty crazy. Then we went to dinner. This consisted of watery spaghetti, bread, bananas, and what they call a sub (a hoagie roll with 2 slices of peperoni, a little lettuce, and mayo). This was just more like just bread. Big band music was blaring loudly over some speakers. Maybe they thought that the bad music would make us forget about the bad food. At least this food won't give me food poisoning. It is fine. I have internet at the hotel. This place is pretty nice. Tomorrow is a 150 k flat stage that will probably finish in a bunch kick but anything can happen. This is bike racing.