September 28, 2008
Bringing it to you fresh like a Burrito from Mexico
Stage 7: Zitacuaro-Toluca, 91.2 Km
Almost there! Two stages left and only 140km involved in total but not to be fooled that it was going to be easy. The first of the two final stages saw us race 90km and up and over a 20km climb near the beginning. The lads once again hit the front early to control things and let something non-threatening up the road. Scott decided to throw everything at us today (more than the kitchen sink). They were pretty aggressive from the bottom of the ascent, one Scott rider went clear who wasn't a threat along with a couple others but a few kilometres later they started launching there two GC guys in attacks of two which involved a non GC Scott rider attacking flat out with one of their GC guys in tow.
This went down for a few kilometres sometimes I had Kobza and Mois with me and some moments I didn't so I had to give chase myself. Eventually I decided that I couldn't keep launching after these guys and let them go, I thought it safer to play the option of Kobza, Moises and Ian to catch back up and utilize their strength to reel the break back in.
Of the six riders away up the road there were three Scott guys, obviously the three were driving the group in hope of breaking us. We could see them at one point on the other side of a descent and they were riding pretty hard but the other 3 guys in that move were sitting on and not working which was a smart play by them being out numbered and good for us to know that the whole break wasn't working. By now Ian had caught back up as well so now we had 3 guys rolling plus and Italian which his team had an interest in the final sprint. I started to feel the lads had things under control as the break wasn't getting any further out.
We wanted to try and keep them dangling out there at about 30 seconds which was better for us as it wears them down and usually stops further attacks. With about 40km to go a group of 30 riders caught back up which had Jonesy in tow. At that point the break came back also so it was all together. From there on the lads rode a solid tempo close enough to the finish for the sprinters teams to take over. Once again a nice smooth road till the final few kilometres and hang on and ride the bumps into the finish dodging riders and sunken man hole covers! Still in the lead and one stage or 50km to go.
Stage 8: Toluca-Zona Metropolitana, 52.9 Km
No champagne rolling into the Champs Elysees for this finale! Due to the shortness of the stage of course guys figured they could go flat out from the gun! But I guess whether its 50km or 250km there's always someone ;)
Fabs jumped straight into the first move to keep an eye on things while once again the lads jumped on the front plus a couple Tecos riders. This stage basically went up 24km and down 26km so all we had to do was hang on and defend the jersey till the top of the climb then all should be well barring a mechanical to the finish. So the attacks began on the climb mainly from the two Scott guys, they took there turns attacking me but the guys or myself covered their moves.
I think a few kilometres from the top they knew they were beat as their attacks got less and less or maybe they were just worn out? Little did they know I was wearing out too but nothing like keeping a cool composure to out smart a couple of Euros ;) Ian was on form towards the top and rolled a pretty good tempo over the top of the climb. That was the guys work done now and it was up to a couple of other teams to take over and drive it to the finish to move some of their guys up on the overall.
For a short stage there were only 20 or so guys racing for the finish. Moises stuck by my side all the way down the wet, bumpy and fast descent in case I had any problems which I didn't. Just to throw a spanner in the works someone had smashed what it looks liked to be an entire windscreen across the road as we came around a big sweeping lefthander with about 10 kilometres to go.
So of course tires started going down and I quickly run my glove over the front wheel but I couldn't get around to the back. I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. If I did flat all I had to do was ride to the 3km to go banner in the bunch and I would get the same time as the front group. But luckily 50-Cal, Kobza and Mois and myself had no worries with flats.
Also not to disappoint, the finish had a few bumps and a nice down hill sprint. But who cared? The tour was finally over and I'd notched up my biggest tour win thus far and a fine win for the team! All their hard work reflecting in the results after the overall GC and Overall Teams category sewn up! It was one of my most memorable wins I'd have to say due to the effort put in by the lads and the staff.
It would have been impossible to take the yellow all the way to the line as an individual that's for sure, but with a great bunch of guys that have ridden a lot together throughout the year and almost know how each other think in a race we've all became one unit in itself. VOLTRON!
Here's a couples of key highlights of the Vuelta Mexico
- An American rider about to put his cycling shoe on only to find a scorpion already wearing it!
- A rider being taken down by a dog and the dog not too pleased by it all and biting the downed rider!
- Jonesy getting cautioned as he hung on to the side of a car after a crash and was having his seat and seat post replaced. Not an easy task while trying to pedal hey?
- An American Director holding a seat post and telling an official where he would like to shove it and the official oblivious to the threat due to a closed window…
- The Mexican Duke Boys who didn't see a giant speed bump and launched off it at about 70km an hour! Yeeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
- The Mexicali Karate Kid taking on the Ukrainian Balboa. Eye of the Tiger will all beat Wax on Wax off my friend…
- Military escorts in the form of Blackhawks for the entirety of stage 3….
- And last but not least the "Fabs Burger", Five all beef paddies, 5 slices of cheese and some bacon all squeezed onto a sesame seed bun. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm all that goodness and not an eye lid battered by the big man!
Next up is a race in Varese, Italy…
Got a long way to go and a short time to get there, I'm East bound just watch ol'bandit run!