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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Great Stage 4 Story.

Here's a recount of one rider's Tour Stage 4. If you've raced long enough you'll know EXACTLY how this feels. Something similar to this happened to me at the Mt. Joy race this year. Watching the pack pull away from you as you blow yourself up in the wind trying to latch back on is not fun. It's also a great example of teamwork. Yeah I ripped the article but I want to keep it handy on my blog.


By David Millar, for bicycling.com

...There was another episode that day that showed how well we ride and look after each other. Anyone who watched the stage may have seen a little moment just as the peloton got split up in the crosswinds where there was a helicopter shot of three Garmin riders hovering off the back of the front peloton. This was due to a stupid momentary lapse of vigilance by me. We turned left out of a roundabout into tail crosswind, and I still can't fathom what I was doing so far back, but I was too far back. There was a horrendous crash right next to me as we turned into it, we came sprinting out of the roundabout and had our heads down, at the last moment I hear a yell and the guys in front of me split either side of a central reservation. I was on the left already so I was OK but the guy next to me had his head down sprinting as hard as he could and went straight into a road sign. He stopped dead. It was a horrific and I can still picture it perfectly in my head. I don't know how he got back up again and finished but he did, Nicki Sorenson is a hard bastard.

So that crash then set cat amongst the pigeons and strung it out even more. I was feeling good and didn't think there was any real danger, just as I was thinking this Danny pulls up next to me and tells me he's going to take me up. He then sprinted for about 500m and somehow managed to move me up the line out. At this point I realized that the shit was hitting the fan, and it became more apparent as I saw Fedrigo pulling out of the line further ahead, then Cobo, then Kreuziger. This is when I knew that all hell had broken loose. When riders of that quality can't hold the wheel you have to face the fact that the race is ON and you're on your own. I could see the main peloton drifting away and knew what I had to do. I paused for a few seconds and then went as hard as I could for as long as I could. On the file downloaded from Garmin that evening Allen Lim was able to see that I did 4.1km in 4 minutes 12 seconds averaging 533 watts at an average speed of 58.7km/h. So if you ever wonder why it splits in a crosswind, that's why. I was the last rider to make it across, but even that effort didn't quite get me there. I got to within 50m of the back of the group, and this was the worse bit, which was tightly packed and protected itself from the wind, the guys at the back of the group were oblivious to the carnage behind.

I in the meantime was dangling 50m off the back nuking from the effort and those 50m may as well have been 10km, I felt like an astronaut whose tether has been cut. Then I saw Martyn and Maggy at the back of the group, I shouted on the radio (what Maggy would later describe as screaming), 'Maggy, Martyn, LOOK BEHIND!'. The first time they didn't turn, the second time I screamed Martyn looked behind. Without hesitating he dropped out of the safety of the group and came back to me. At this moment I was literally blowing up, I couldn't even hold his wheel as he tried to accelerate me back into the group, after trying three times, he turned around and reached out his hand. It was a ballsy move as we were going very fast and it would transfer all his energy to me leaving him stranded and on his own. He did it though. I took it and he slung me as hard as he could, by this time Maggy had dropped out of the group and was awaiting me a little further up the road, the momentum Martyn had given me allowed me to get onto the accelerating sanctuary of Maggy's wheel and he towed me back on. The relief to find myself back in the front group was almost as strong as the few minutes of fear and pain I'd just put myself through.

I spent the next 25km disgusted at myself and much more vigilant, but it wasn't fun, in the meantime, Will was up the road almost winning the stage clueless to the chaos behind, that's always one of the interesting things about this race. There are so many different races and experiences being lived each day, dozens of stories and events for each and every stage. That's what makes it what it is I suppose...

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