This is it. It's time for the mountains of the Tour de France and I'm ready to work my socks off for Christian Vande Velde and Bradley Wiggins. Today's stage to Arcalís is going to be really tough, not just because of the horrific profile of climbs, but because all the general classification guys will want to show that they mean business. That means that riders like me will have to work hard just to position their leaders near the front and keep them from trouble.
It's not just today's stage that looks hard: the next three days look tough and we'll have to assess everything all over again on the first rest day.
Yesterday was another hard day for me. I crashed again and went down on the same side as the day before. Luckily nothing was broken or too sore so I was able to keep going, but I was behind another crash near the end. I ended up losing contact with the leaders. Having your body hit the pavement is never a good thing but the hardest part of the day, yet again, were the conditions. The rain was a huge factor, causing multiple crashes, splits and general chaos in the bunch.
The day had started out so well. In case you don't know, Garmin-Slipstream's base is in Girona, Spain, exactly where the stage started. So many of the roads we raced on we use in our training rides. There were so many friendly and familiar faces at the start of the stage and the occasion was really special. You see so many starts and finishes during the year that they tend to blur into one but this one was special. I've lived in Girona since 2004 and my folks were over here to watch the stage. It all added up to a fantastic atmosphere.
From Girona we rolled out along the coast and it was always the plan that we'd try and show ourselves in break so that we wouldn't have to chase all the way to the finish. David Millar took things by the scruff of the neck and really showed just how strong and classy he is on the bike. It was touch-and-go when he broke clear of his breakaway companions but in the end it didn't work out. Still, it was an awesome ride.
I'm on the team bus, but I need to go. It is time for us to sign on for today's stage. Wish me luck!