The Vuelta for 2013 has been run and won, and I'm sitting at home having completed my first 3 week tour with a great sense of accomplishment, and to be honest, a slight hangover.
Like I mentioned in my previous blog regarding the Pyrenees, the final week continued to be a real fight. When groups of 30 riders are going away, they aren't just skipping away, they're being forced away on strength. The racing in the second half of the race was of course desperate in nature, and the parcours so brutal that sometimes it really felt like there wasn't much of a rhythm to the race other than 'go really fast once the flag drops, until you cross the line on the road 180km later.'
In a way I found that pretty cool, you get a sense that every team is there to get the success they want, and no one was really scared to lay everything on the line if the breakaway didn't suit their team, especially after having survived an epic 2 days in Andorra and France, it's almost as if there wasn't so much to be scared of anymore.
As a team we continued to ride in a way during the last week that we had during the previous two. Leo [Leopold Konig] pulled off 9th overall in his first ever GT which is more than impressive, and everyone else infiltrated breaks and assisted Leo. We spent a lot of time riding next to the bunch leading into climbs to make sure we were placed in the first 20 to start the climb ahead of the shit fight occurring behind.
One memory that stands out for me was from the Angliru, the gruppetto was exploding and it was extremely difficult to just reach the top. I was concentrating just on the 10 meters in front of me and out of the fog, I passed under the 2km to go banner, I looked down at my SRM -at which I'd been trying to maintain around 8-10kph- and it read 7kph. In my head I thought; "c'mon man, it's only 2km..." then I made the calculation that at 7kph, it would take me another 20 minutes to reach the finish, luckily the last km was flat though so I got there faster but it was heartbreaking at the time, I thought I might be on that final climb forever.
I find it hard to put the whole experience into a few paragraphs. Or to summarise what I'll take from it; but for the moment, I think it's given me confidence - I'm looking forward to taking the new limits I've found to another level in the future. Because at the end of the day, it's not like I hated it, I liked it everyday; so why should we should be scared of having to suffer or test yourself?
I like the fact that everyday was a complete test of your mental and physical strength and in the end a feeling of accomplishment day after day.
The Vuelta was my final race for 2013, I'm looking forward to heading home to my family now, but my eyes are already on next season in all honesty; I'm looking forward to taking all the experience from this season into next year and making a step-up and maybe even finding another limit.