September 16, 2008
After a bit of air time once again to get to a race (15 hours, not including transit) I had finally landed in Aguascalientes for the start of the Vuelta Mexico. Eight days, 1139 kilometres and hopefully some good weather.
After my couple of brief visits back home with the little family and a pit stop in Ireland, I was very keen to get a bit of colour back on the skin. Unfortunately my steed never made it all the way to Mexico, it decided to have a lay over in Houston to see what Hurricane Ike was like.
We were lucky enough to fly out of Houston before they shut down the airport. The steed managed to get on the early flight the next morning, but not before I got a nice training ride on a Mexican-made Carbon Turbo! The boys loved it anyway, even if I didn't.
Stage 1 Aguascalientes - San Luis Potosi
A sketchy start was to be expected and it didn't disappoint. I took my chance to stay out of trouble and attacked pretty much from the gun, I hadn't been feelin' too super of late and after a couple of bingles over the leading days into the race I was going to play it safe and hide in the bunch for the first couple of stages.
I thought playing it safe was to be up the road. Before long I had three companions. I could here on the radio that there was some carnage going down behind me and made me feel a bit better also. We worked pretty hard to get a gap and after about 50 kilometres we had a gap of five minutes - there were a trio behind us at three minutes also and the three Amigos and I decided we better to wait and make it seven.
Out numbered and out voted I just went with the flow. We hit the first KOM at 80 km, it was only a category four and I ran second over it. The dude that smoked me was a sprinter and the last 500 metres were relatively flat.
We were only five strong after the KOM and we all worked well together to punch the break out to eight minutes. Then we hit the longest stretch of road I have ever raced on! I think we road in the same direction for at least an hour. Oh yeah, and a bit of a head cross wind! Nasty to say the least. Even at eight minutes the main field could see us. Eventually we got to the end of the stretch and the time gap had come down to 3:30.
Meanwhile back in the field the squad had set up behind the two teams chasing to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately even at the front of the field you can't be safe. There was a team trying to push in front of the Team Type 1 squad for no reason and after several attempts one rider simply decided to take his hands of the bars and smash Jonesy's bars knocking him off along with Kobza, Chris and Fabs plus several other riders.
Luckily no one was hurt too bad and they all rejoined the main field with out too much problems. Back up front we crossed a small climb with 20 km to go and then it was basically all down hill to the finish which was good for us. We still had a couple minutes over the top and looked good for us to stay away.
Everyone worked well down to the finish, the weakest guy of the group tried an opportunistic move with 1.5 km to go and I played the waiting game and hoped that the others would give chase. They did, but couldn't pull him back completely. I sat fourth wheel and waited 'till about 150 metres to go.
We were all spread across the road and all seemed pretty worn out from the long day. I couldn't believe I was actually passing these guys, after all I'm not renowned from my sprint. I actually won the kick and just missed the guy that escaped a tad earlier. No worries. The field came in a minute down which gives the five of us a nice little buffer for now.
Stage 2 San Luís Potosí - León
The plan today was for all of us to keep trying to get into moves. With seven stages to go the race was still wide open even though five of us had a minute on the rest. By the 80 km mark a move finally went with Moises in it. He was extra motivated today as the stage finished in his home town of Leon.
Five riders went clear once again and this time the teams that missed it weren't going to let it blow out too far this time. The team kept together all day and out of trouble, well kind of! With about 50 km to go I was riding along Kobza talking about the race when the yellow jersey just in front of us looked around, upon doing this he clipped the wheel in front of him and banked a hard right just in front of me. By now he was over lapping my bike and I thought I was down. He road his rear derailleur straight into my front wheel.
I thought I was going to high-side it but some how flew off the road into some very high grass which actually caught me like a net. With my front wheel destroyed and the team car up the road I had to wait 'till almost the last car in the convoy to get some neutral service.
All was good though, as the Boyz all came back and towed me back up. As it turned out after another 10 km or so the yellow jersey must have done some damage to his derailleur or wheel and had to pull up. He took forever to get back on and then there was a bit of gutter action and he got popped. All I had to do was finish in the bunch and would end up with yellow.
Moises was still up front driving the break but the chase behind was pulling them in closer and closer as we neared the finish. With 10 km to go we turned off a really nice highway and onto something they wouldn't even race down in Belgium! Man it was rough and of course the last three kilometres were all downhill. You could hardly keep a rhythm on the road and pedal. I think the theories here for down hill finishes is that the crowds can see some fast speeds.
The break was caught with about 500 metres remaining and the official car hadn't got out of the road and I guess you could say took part in the sprint. Weird as hellm but not unexpected down here.
So unfortunately Moises didn't get the win in front of his family, but I'm sure he'll notch a win before the tour finishes in Mexico City next Saturday. As for me I ended up in yellow after a bit of confusion of who finished where.
An honourable mention goes to the little Mexican who tried to pick a fight with Kobza after the stage. Lets just say he regretted his actions.