Francsico Mancebo's return to North American racing at the Tour of Alberta started out well but then took two massive hits in stage's 2 and 3, leaving the 40-year-old Spaniard second-to-last overall heading into Sunday's individual time trial in Edmonton.
Mancebo made the winning breakaway during the stage 1 circuit race in Lethbridge that gained more than two minutes on the rest of the field. He suffered dramatically during the cold, wet stage from Kananaskis to Olds, however, losing 12:45 and falling to 57th overall.
"[Stage 2] was a very bad day for me," he told Cyclingnews after the stage 3 finish. "I was so tired because my last race was in April."
Indeed, before Alberta, Mancebo's last race with Skydive Dubai was at the Giro Del Trentino six months ago. He's done some smaller races in Spain during the intervening time, but the warm temperatures in his home country didn't prepare him for Tuesday's epically cold and wet conditions.
Mancebo is returning to North America for the first time in three years with the Skydive Dubai team after having raced the US domestic circuit for five years from 2009-2013. So far this season he has notched some good results, with fourth overall at the Tour de Langkawi and second overall at the Tour de Taiwan.
During the stage 3 run to Drayton Valley in Alberta, he worked hard on the front trying to pull back the breakaway for sprinter Andrea Pelini, eventually dropping out of the peloton, finishing dead last and losing another 16 minutes.
"I had no-good legs [during stage 2], but today I felt better and I did a lot of work for the team today, for our sprinter, but he did not win," Mancebo said after the finish of stage 3 n Drayton Valley. "But I'm happy to be here. I like to race in the USA and in Canada, so I'm happy to be back again."
It's certainly not the result Mancebo was looking for in his return, but he told Cyclingnews that his tour is not yet over. Monday's circuit race in Edmonton is a lumpy affair with two punchy climbs, a parcour in which the craft Spaniard could excel. He said Sunday's short time trial will provide the rest he needs to get his legs back in form.
"Sunday will be like a rest day for us," he said. "It's only 12km time trial, so it will be good to open the legs up and save the energy for the last day. I'd like to win, and I feel good about the course. I think I can do very good on that stage."
The Edmonton circuit race was not part of the 2013 Tour of Alberta, the only other time Mancebo raced the Canadian 2.1 event when he finished seventh overall, but he's confident Monday's "crazy" course will suit him.
"There are some climbs and it is so crazy,” he said. “There are not too many teams here and that race is so crazy."