The first part of the season didn't go to plan, but there were some moments where I felt good and was back up there with the top guys again. After the Tour of Dubai, I was supposed to do Ruta del Sol, and coming into that race I was really strong. But then that first day crashed happened, and I injured my back. I rode two more stages and then just dropped out. I couldn't do it anymore. It took me a good two weeks to recover from because it was an open wound and it wouldn't heal. It got infected as well. As soon as I got better I went to Tenerife to do some training, and prepare for Critérium International, where I did pretty well.
In the race before Critérium, the Classica Corsia, I had really good legs, and I was really into the racing. It started out sunny and 20 degrees, it was warm and nice. We raced really hard for the first two hours, but about half an hour into the race we went up this climb into the clouds and it got really cold and started raining near the top. I was motivated and happy to see that I was doing well, so I didn't take a rain jacket or vest. I was up there with the first guys, and I guess I was just so thrilled to be up there with the best again, so I just kept on going. I was just racing in a jersey and shorts, no undershirt, and that was the wrong move. Some times everything goes well, you don't even have to plan it, and sometimes you plan and do everything you can to control things, and you screw up or something unexpected happens.
The next morning I woke up and my lungs were full of this green stuff coming up. I just tried to ignore it, I didn't talk to anybody about it. The next day, Critérium International started, and it was not what I was hoping it would be. I was not feeling really well, and I was pretty disappointed. The day after the race ended I got a super high fever travelling home and I completely lost my voice. I was not able to talk, so when I went to the airport or hotel, I had to use my phone and write messages and show the people at check-in counters what I wanted. I had my bike, and didn't know how to tell them, so I just wrote it and showed them - it was pretty funny.
I recovered from that, and then headed to Boulder, where I stayed for 10 days before Tour of the Gila. I trained pretty well, felt pretty good. At Tour of the Gila, every day I did some extra training after the stages because my goal is Tour of California, and the stages in this race are not as long as I would prefer them to be. I think coming into the TT I was starting with the tank half empty, so that cost me a little bit of time. The first stage at Tour of the Gila was a little boring with a fast finish, but the last stage suited me better. For us Europeans, it's better to have longer stages with more climbs, so you have to do efforts for a longer period of time, and more times. The power you're putting out overall is lower, but other guys can do very high power for 40 minutes, and then they're done. Europeans rely on doing a little bit less power but for longer. That's what I think I have.
After Gila, I'll stay in Lake Tahoe at altitude, so that will help a little bit more. All in all, I think I'll be ready for Tour of California. So far, I'm pretty happy with my Tour of California preparation. Obviously I'm not happy with how the season has gone, but I think we can compensate for that at Tour of California.