Day 5 – Giro d’Sardinia Camp 2011

My legs felt fine this morning and I had high spirits in spite of the forecasted rain for the day. After breakfast (where a few people complimented my solid performance from the day before) we got our bikes ready and started to head to the start of today’s 158 kilometer stage (with ~5700 feet of climbing). As I was getting ready to leave the hotel, I noticed a serious cut in the sidewall of my tire. Max and I rushed to the van and quickly changed the tire, then hurried back to the hotel to use the pump and then headed to the start line where hundreds of people were already lined up in the narrow start area.

Today was also a Granfondo ride, so a larger number of starters were present than at the TT and more than what will be at the Giro the rest of the week. Emanuele has told me to be assertive and stick with Max to get a front row starting position. We worked our way past a few course marshals and ended up at the very front of the large group (no easy task).

The start included ~5k of neutral roll out where I was able to hold position at or very near the front of the pack. Once the race started it was mayhem, as usual, for an Italian race. People seem to be willing to take unreasonable risks, just to get up to the front of the race. Your choice is to either match their risks or drop back in the pack. I stayed up front for a while, and then drifted back. After a bit I got back up front and after 30k was still in the top 25. Unfortunately, at just the point that I had drifted back again, we went through a small village and the pack stretched out as we left town. I realized then, that I was much too far back and when the group compacted again, tried to move up some but the pack was gutter-to-gutter and I didn’t make any progress when things stretched back out as we started the big climb of the day.

Up the climb, I held my position and passed a few people but couldn’t close all of the gaps opening up in front of me. It was so discouraging to watch the leaders ride away ahead of me, knowing that poor positioning cost me the chance to be with them.

Eventually we crested the top of the climb 6k’s later and I started bridging to dropped riders. Finally, the gap to the next group was too big and I settled into a small group as we went up and down for a long time. We had 13 riders when we hit the flat section again but we went slowly after the hills and 30 or so more people caught us. I later learned that there was a big group just ahead of us of about 40 riders but the gap to that group opened up considerably when we rode easily in between the climbing sections.

On our second lap of the climbing section our group whittled down again but this time was more like 20 riders than the 13 on the first lap. It started to rain on the second lap (at about noon, just as predicted). Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold (14.5 C), at least for us Chicago folks and, although messy, it wasn’t too unpleasant.

As we came out of the hills at the end of the second hill loop and started our 20k leg back to the finish line, we caught a small group off the front of our group. The final 7k straight stretch took us straight into a headwind. The finish was narrow and not extremely well marked, so it was difficult to judge. I ended up having difficulty getting around everyone and didn’t even get to unleash a sprint but still came in about 7th in my group. Unfortunately that was only good for 75th overall and 15th in my age group.

I haven’t seen the General Classification results yet, but I am probably down to 10th in my age group. That is a tough pill to swallow, especially knowing that I probably should have been in that group of 40 that was ahead of my group. The awards ceremony today also included awards for today’s stage, unlike the ITT yesterday. I’d like to get another top 3 if I am able to but I’m pretty wiped out after today’s stage. We’ll have to see what tomorrow brings.

Max was 4th in the ITT yesterday and was 2nd on today’s stage, putting him 2nd overall. If I can do any work at all for him, I’d love it.

Most of our team had a lot of fun today, even in the rain, but also dropped in the overall standings. Positioning in a huge field is not something that we get to work on much in the US. Hopefully we will all improve during the week. We have a number of chances yet to come.

This entry was posted in Italy. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.