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Vuelta: Hardest Grand Tour I've ever done

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) beat Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the intermediate sprint, but the Australian would be relegated after the stage finished.

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) beat Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the intermediate sprint, but the Australian would be relegated after the stage finished. (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)

You have to be kidding me. This is without doubt the hardest three-week race I’ve ever done. It’s just crazy from start to finish.

Today we had 4,500 meters of climbing and it was full on the whole day because the break didn’t go until 50km into the stage. Luckily I had pretty good legs but this race is just too hard. If I’d had a bad day today I would be writing this blog from 35,000 ft on a flight home, instead of from my hotel room.

Since the rest day, this is the first day I’ve felt okay. After ten days of racing, followed by a day off your body just shuts down and that’s what happened to me. I broke that rhythm and I paid for it with two very tough days.

It’s my own fault though. On the rest day we just went 20 minutes up the road, sat in a café for two and a half hours and then cycled back.

The day after the rest day I was dropped after 2km and was ready to pack it all in. It’s strange how many things you can go through in a stage race, the emotions, the feelings, the sensations, it’s a total roller coaster.

But seriously, this race has been incredibly hard, too hard in fact. I remember riding this race back in 2005 and people where here training for the Worlds and there would be nine or ten sprint stages up for grabs. Maybe one or two guys would go up the road and you’d catch them before the finish. Now everyone wants to be in the break and the starts are uphill. Things are going in the wrong direction.

At the end of the day it’s the big names in the sport that have to say something, but no one will. This is by far the hardest three week stage race I’ve done in my life and just don’t get me started on the ridiculous transfers.

I’m still going to make it to Madrid, that’s for sure. I had thought about pulling out because there are no easy stages coming up and I need to think about the Worlds and even though there are a couple of weeks between the Vuelta and the Worlds, this race has been so tough.

As for the Worlds the Australian in the best form at the moment is Stuey [O’Grady]. You can see when he’s pulling on the front and when he’s been in a break. It all depends on the selectors and what they want to do for the race. Whatever happens though, Stuey will be a great captain for the team. He’s got the experience, he knows how to lead and how to read a race perfectly. He’s got the legs to be there at the end too.