Well I am back in Leuven after a very successful trip to China for the 6th Tour of Qinghai Lake. From the outset the team was getting along great and fitting nicely together. We arrived in Xining just two days prior to the race. I would have liked a little more time to acclimatise before the event.
The line up for the race was the best they have seen, with Discovery Channel headlining the event. It was good to catch up with fellow Central Queenslander Allan Davis who was there as part of Disco's team.
I won't go into detail for every stage as it was a pretty long and eventful two weeks.
The race was on from the start, just like last year. Stage 1 included a 60km climb up to Tibetan Plateau and Qinghai Lake. The guys were travelling well and Lloydy ending up 6th on the first stage, I was struggling with the altitude and it took me until the third stage to find my legs and lungs.
During stage 3 I got away in a break with two other guys and built a lead of 3 minutes. Along the way I picked up second in a sprint as well as the first KOM sprint, after some quick calculations by the director in the team car, we realized that if I got the next KOM sprint, I would end up in the mountains jersey. Just before the bunch swallowed us up, I managed to take that KOM sprint to get the jersey, and then just cruised in the bunch to the finish. It was my first jersey for me in a big race and the first for DFL at Qinghai Lake.
Unfortunately the next day disaster struck and I had a bad dose of gastro/China Belly/Xining Sting. Call it what you like but 60km into the stage it began and resulted in me pulling over twice to relieve myself. First time was up the climb and I managed to relieve myself in time, but the second time around, going downhill I wasn't so lucky and not quick enough. You can fill in the rest; just as I did.
I can honestly say it was my worst day on the bike ever. So the next couple of days for me were spent recovering and trying to build back some strength whilst the other boys were having a great tour and doing good things for Lloydy.
Stage 5 was a write off for me, but Lloydy had a great day and got the yellow jersey that he was so keen for. We spent a fair bit of time on the front the day after during the longest stage of the Tour; doing our best to protect his lead, but, unfortunately he lost out in an intermediate sprint and lost the jersey by just two seconds.
Over the next three days we, as a team threw everything at the leader, Gabrielle Missaglia, and rode great as a team. After a great The last stage we worked great together and did everything we could for Lloydy to take the win but we ended up falling short by just one second. So close yet so far.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the team staff, Eric the DS, Mark and Eddy our mechanics as well as Gil and Stefan the masseurs, thanks for all your hard work.
Well done to Lloydy as well, good on you mate; you rode like a true champion. To the other guys in the team like Pablo, Dan, Rhys, Gert and Kane thanks for a good two weeks. Apart from two bad days, I had a great time and really enjoyed riding together in the way that we did.
Can't fault ya's.
All that was left was a good night out with mates, a flight to Beijing, some shopping at the infamous "Silk Markets", a long day of travel home and the news upon arrival in Paris that Vinokourov tested positive during the tour. Let another long, damaging, drawn out legal process to clear a name begin.
An easy week has been had and starting to feel ok. Got the call during the week and heading to the Tour of Denmark that starts on Wednesday. Leaving Monday for the race and looking forward to it. Hopefully should be travelling ok after two weeks at altitude and a steady 10 days. We will see.
Til next time