The tall (190cm) 21-year-old from Boise, Idaho is riding his second year at the WorldTour level. At the Tour de la Provence in February, he rode to 12th on the climb to Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux and finished 14th on GC. Then in his first Paris-Nice, he finished an impressive eighth overall. His debut Grand Tour will be a three-week journey of discovery.
With the team presentation now complete it’s just hitting me, I’m at the freaking GIRO!
The team presentation was spectacular, albeit a bit quiet because of the lack of people which always dampens the mood a bit, but special nonetheless.
For me, usually, I get mentally switched on for a race during the big travel day involving various taxis, flights and trains. But this time, I got picked up Tuesday at 5 p.m. (CET) in Nice (where I now live) and was with the team in Torino eating dinner by 8 p.m. No time to sit and ponder. Maybe it’s better that way.
I’ve already had quite a big spring leading up to this, or at least it feels like it. It’s funny to think back and remember how, from the outside, I used to watch these big events. I would see the riders at the Team Presentation and imagine they were all arriving in absolute perfect condition, with the ideal run in and at perfect race weight.
But having lived it now, I realise that it’s all a bit more fluid. You make a plan at the beginning of the season and then you put your head down and work. Along the way though you race here and your body responds one way, and you race again and it responds in another.
It’s not a perfect science, and my year to date has been no exception. I had a really great winter of training and started the season flying and motivated. The team noticed quickly and we took advantage of it. Boy, am I glad we did because I was already able to achieve some things I’m really proud of.
All of that is not to say I’m not in great shape now, I definitely am, but it’s just completely unknown territory. I’ve asked a lot of my body and brain, and am about to ask a whole lot more. And that’s exciting in a way. To see how far I can go.
What’s nice is that we are starting this Giro with a man on form, Marc Soler. It’s his first Grand Tour as the sole leader and I’m quite happy for him to get an opportunity like this. Having spent a couple weeks with him at altitude, I can attest to his work ethic and talent, and I’m really looking forward to helping him out.
Thankfully, for me personally, the team hasn’t applied any pressure and the only expectations are to get through the race and to absorb the absolute maximum. As basic as this sounds, it will be incredibly helpful to have distinct ‘on days’ and ‘off days’. Of course, no day in a Grand Tour is fully off, but the difference between finishing in the gruppetto on a day vs. fighting to survive in the GC group can be quite large it seems.
As far as the race goes, the first week seems tame to me, but I will probably be proven quite wrong on that. After a big ol’ taper, I hope for a few days to ride into it.
Anyway, those are some random thoughts for now before we get this huge thing started, I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say once the festivities begin.
Ciao for now.
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